Film Review – One Night in Miami (2020)

Title – One Night in Miami (2020)

Director – Regina King (The Finest)

Cast – Aldis Hodge, Leslie Odom Jr., Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree

Plot – A fictionalized account of the night of February 25th 1964, a night where cultural icons Malcolm X (Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Odom Jr.), NFL player Jim Brown (Hodge) and boxer Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali (Goree) gathered together in the wake of an historic boxing fight.

“Don’t you think it’s about time to party?”

Review by Eddie on 22/01/2021

For her first big screen feature, actress turned director Regina King has aimed for the stars with her weighty and awards contending adaptation of Kemp Powers play One Night in Miami, a film that features a stunning array of career making performances but also a film that feels at times to be weighed down by its stagy delivery and lack of imagination as this important fictionalised account of a real event can at times become tiresome in its near two hour run time.

Undoubtedly topical, this story worth telling allows Powers and King to wonder what may have occurred behind closed doors as Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Cassius Clay joined forces on one fateful night in Miami during 1964, a period where the black rights movement was reaching an incredibly important moment and these men all had various roles to play as they looked to leverage their fame and reputations to do good for their people, even if it may not have been the best moves based on career chances and opportunities.

Starting off by briefly introducing us to the lives of these well known figures, King then quickly turns her focus to the events of February 25th and we are then set on a course of a mainly dialogue driven affair that takes place around a hotel and within the confines of its walls as Kingsley Ben-Adir’s Malcolm X targets these high profile figures in a way that makes them realise more about the job that is in their hands as they look to impact their own and countless others lives in a way that will be history defining.

It’s all stunningly well played out by its main cast, the relatively unknown Ben-Adir will likely feature in key awards ceremonies to take place this year and singer/actor Leslie Odom Jr. is a revelation as singer Sam Cooke, a man targeted by Malcolm X here in the films most extended scene inside his hotel room as the group discuss some heavy topics and Cooke’s seemingly wasted opportunities to do more for his people.

For most parts of the film King never tries to escape the stories at times preachy and stage orientated roots and while you’re always gripped by the embodiment of these performers and their respective roles, the film does wear thin on multiple occasions and you often are left imagining what the film may have looked like with some added flair and scope, even if the final 5 minutes of the tale are some of 2020’s best final moments.

The hype and praise around Miami is to be expected, topical issues, career making turns and female film-making all in vogue offerings but its hard to imagine King’s film being a product that is long-lasting in nature, even if it will go down as one of 2020’s most nominated and critically adorned features.

Final Say – 

Filled with some awards worthy performances and tackling some relevant explorations of American history, One Night in Miami is a professionally made offering that fails to reach any lofty heights thanks to its at times uninspired delivery and stagy production.

3 expensive cameras out of 5 

8 responses to “Film Review – One Night in Miami (2020)

  1. Pingback: Film Review – One Night in Miami (2020) –·

  2. Great performances for me, but yeah – definitely a little static in its setup. You can feel the play element, so much so it made me want to watch it in that manner. Solid enough, nowhere outstanding, but any of the actors picking up awards would be well deserved.

    • Agree totally mate, I think for me I would’ve almost preferred to watch the stage version of this tale, I just never felt blown away by this as a film even if as you say the performances are all incredible.

  3. Posted a similar comment on Mark Hobin’s site. I liked this (didn’t feel like writing about it immediately though) a bit more than you did, but, it does feel like movies adapted from works intended for and originally launched on stage have a ceiling no higher than “good” simply due to the stiff at times dialogue and static settings.

    • I’m surprised in some ways the huge hype it’s got from critics giving it perfect scores in other ways not ad it’s such a topical movie especially for the Oscar’s but be interesting to see how the general public goes reacting to it.

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