film reel image

film reel image

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Tyson 2008 * * * Stars


Mike Tyson was one of the greatest (and most famous) heavyweight boxers of all time. Um, if you don't know the name, you've probably been living quietly under a rock (or in an igloo). 2008's Tyson is about Mike Tyson's life in the ring and out, clocking in at a well-rounded 90 minutes (no pun intended). "If I have any anger, if it's directed at anyone it's directed at myself". Well said there "Kid Dynamite". 

So yeah, Tyson as a documentary doesn't really bring anything fresh or new from a structural standpoint. Heck, it almost feels like a Mike Tyson wiki page entry in which the bullet points are interchangeable. Oh well. What redeems Tyson is its style permeated by helmer James Toback, a close personal friend of Mike and a maverick that seems to like his camera peeking in instead of the other way around. Toback effectively crosscuts between archive footage and his tattooed subject spilling the beans. He also uses split screens and zoom shots, piggybacking on the ending to his 2000 pic, Black & White. Yup, his distinctive fingerprints are well, all over this thing. 

Modus operandi aside, Mike Tyson for the most part is all front and center here, mumbling and bumbling and at times, appearing a little inchoate. He's the only one being interviewed and he chews scenery like a bloodhound eyeing a sirloin. Hey I'm not saying Tyson's account isn't pesky because it sometimes is. The thing that ultimately resonates is his honesty and emotion and his flat out rawness. I mean towards the end he even looks into the camera, talking like he's Ray Liotta via the courtroom scene in Goodfellas. Yes Tyson has flaws as a docu but by the time the closing credits roll up, it's far removed from being a "sucker punch".  

Written by Jesse Burleson

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