Ali is a biographical sports drama film released in 2001. Directed by Michael Mann, the film features Will Smith in the lead role, portraying the iconic boxer Muhammad Ali. The film also stars Jamie Foxx as Ali's friend and longtime cornerman Bundini Brown, and Jon Voight as the famed sportscaster Howard Cosell. The film takes the audience through Ali's life during the volatile times of the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with his early boxing career as Cassius Clay and his rise to fame as the world heavyweight champion. It also covers his political activism, Muslim faith, family life, and relationships with other prominent figures of the time, such as Malcolm X and Joe Frazier.
The film begins with a young Cassius Clay winning the gold medal in boxing at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Shortly after, he catches the attention of boxing trainer Angelo Dundee (Ron Silver), who takes him on as his protege. Clay then goes on to win his first professional fight and starts climbing the ranks to become the world heavyweight champion.
As Cassius Clay's confidence grows, he joins the Nation of Islam and changes his name to Muhammad Ali. He also becomes vocal about his political beliefs, refusing to fight in the Vietnam War and risking his boxing career and freedom.
Throughout the film, we see Ali's relationships with those closest to him, including his second wife Belinda (Nona Gaye) and his friend Bundini Brown, who helps him train and prepare for his fights. He also forms a close bond with Malcolm X (Mario Van Peebles), who becomes his spiritual advisor and mentor until his assassination.
As Ali's career reaches its peak, he faces his toughest opponent yet in Joe Frazier (James Toney), leading up to the legendary "Fight of the Century" in 1971. The film captures the intense rivalry and animosity between the two boxers and the emotional toll it takes on Ali when he loses the fight.
Amidst all of this, Ali also faces personal challenges, including his strained relationship with his children and his struggle with Parkinson's disease, which ultimately leads to his retirement from boxing.
Throughout the film, we see Will Smith fully embody the spirit and athleticism of Muhammad Ali. He captures the boxer's distinctive voice, swagger, and charisma, while also conveying the emotional depth of his character. Jamie Foxx is also excellent as Bundini Brown, bringing humor and heart to the role.
Jon Voight's portrayal of Howard Cosell is another standout performance, capturing the larger-than-life personality of the sportscaster and his complicated friendship with Ali. The supporting cast, including Mario Van Peebles, Nona Gaye, and Ron Silver, also deliver strong performances.
The film also features stunning cinematography by Emmanuel Lubezki, capturing the vibrant energy of the 1960s and 1970s and the grittiness of the boxing world. The music and soundtrack are also noteworthy, featuring classic songs from the era and an original score by Pieter Bourke and Lisa Gerrard.
Overall, Ali is a powerful and engaging biographical drama that captures the spirit of one of the most iconic figures in sports history. With outstanding performances, stylish direction, and an engaging storyline, this film is a must-see for fans of boxing, sports dramas, and biopics in general.
Ali is a 2001 drama. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.7 and a MetaScore of 65.