One Night in Miami is now available on Amazon Video, providing viewers with the opportunity to watch four icons in action. The film — directed by Regina King — dramatizes one night in Florida in which boxer Cassius Clay, Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, singer-songwriter Sam Cooke and civil rights activist Malcolm X spent considerable time together. The conversation's exact details remain a mystery, but One Night in Miami provides an experience that critics are raving about.
The reviews are in for King's directorial debut, and the overwhelming majority are positive. The film currently has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is "certified fresh." Some critics explain in their reviews that having the film focus on one night is a fantastic choice due to seeing the men as they were at the one point "and only then." Here is what the reviewers are saying about the new film.
Wenlei Ma praised both the writing and directing in One Night in Miami in a review for news.com.au, saying that King is confident in her directorial debut and has the assuredness of someone with considerably more experience behind the camera. Ma gave the film a 4/5 review and said that the tension between Cooke and Malcolm X serves as the fixture of the story.
"King is a steady hand and has an innate understanding of how to best use Kemp’s words to bring out stunning performances from her cast, especially from Ben-Adir and Odom Jr, whose every syllable strikes you right in your soul," Ma writes. "There's a Shakespearean quality to One Night in Miami, wrestling with grand ideas about the complexities of the human experiences through these flawed but noble characters.prevnext
In a review for Pajiba, Roxana Hadadi praised King's acting career before talking about her success as a director while navigating this complex story. The review also specifically mentioned how the performances are solid and that the quiet moments occasionally brought Hadadi to tears.
"Is it really appropriate for us to decide which man was wrong, and which man was right?" Hadadi asks in the review. "Are we even capable of doing such a thing? These men lived for more than our judgment. The final moments of One Night in Miami… will haunt you, and they’ll remind you: There’s still work to do."prevnext
One Night in Miami is certainly not the first biopic to focus on Clay or Malcolm X, but Owen Gleiberman of Variety highlights King's directorial debut due to its difference from previous examples. He writes in a glowing review that the four characters in this film "reveal who they actually are" after having a few drinks. Gleiberman compared One Night in Miami to Spike Lee's Malcolm X, which does not feature a "casual" version of the iconic figure.
"King turns One Night in Miami into a real movie, staging it with a flowing visual confidence and vibrant emotional flair that gives it a fly-on-the-wall authenticity," Gleiberman writes. "The fact that these four are unwinding in a motel room, matching wits and ideas and teasing out their underlying rivalries, never feels like a conceit."prevnext
History in the Making
Ellen E. Jones reviewed One Night in Miami for Empire Online, praising the film and giving it five stars. Jones explained that King's direction gave the four actors the space to do their best work inside the confines of a hotel room while telling a powerful story. Additionally, Jones was one of the many reviewers praising One Night in Miami for focusing on a single evening instead of trying to incorporate moments from the past or future.
"The dialogue —sometimes brotherly, sometimes barbed, often both — will ring true to anyone who’s ever sat up late putting the world to rights," Jones writes. "And the topics of conversation — courage, compromise and the social responsibilities of success — remain relevant to the ongoing struggle for what Malcolm X called simply 'human rights.'"prevnext
Polygon's Siddhant Adlakha acknowledges the serious storylines in play throughout One Night in Miami, such as social change and fighting for progress. However, the reviewer writes that King captures the struggles while also creating one of the "most electrifying and fun" historical dramas to come out of Hollywood. Specifically, Adlakha highlights how King and cinematographer Tami Reiker determine which character’s energy perspective matters most in each given scene.
"One Night in Miami never actually portrays the brutality of white supremacy," Adlakha writes. "The film’s historical antagonist isn’t racist bloodshed, though its specter certainly looms large. The characters are more often blocked by the imperfections and limitations in their perspectives. None of them have a flat-out incorrect worldview — they’re each just incomplete, and they find the missing pieces in one another."prevnext
Electric and Vital
Matt Hudson of What I Watched Tonight raved about One Night in Miami while highlighting the performances of the central cast and King's directing. Hudson expressed the belief that the biopic could have become sensationalist, but King prevented this outcome. Additionally, he said that there is a "real flair" to the overall execution and that the actors provided "scintillating" performances.
"One Night in Miami could have been a dialogue-heavy snoozefest regardless of the topic at hand whilst, importantly, ensuring the dialogue itself felt real. The entirety of the movie felt like a real event unfolding on screen and that’s testament to the wonderful job by Regina King and her leading men. One Night in Miami is electric, vital, and, at times, intense whilst also simply being extremely good."prevnext
Frank Wilkins of Reel Reviews raved about One Night in Miami in his review while acknowledging that the film tackles a "difficult conversation." Wilkins particularly praised the performances while saying that the actors avoided becoming caricatures of historical figures. Additionally, the review states that every word of dialogue from the historical film still resonates today.
"One Night in Miami is a fun, albeit often discomforting, movie to watch. Tough questions are asked and you may not like the answers," Wilkins writes. He proclaimed that viewers would be "hard-pressed" to find a smarter film while praising the stimulating conversation about a very difficult conversation.prev