I have a soft spot in my heart for boxing movies, always have. Some of my favorite movies are boxing movies: Rocky (only the first one), Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, The Wrestler. I’m now adding Tyson to that list because of the absolute zero-pity look both Toback and Tyson give to the Mike Tyson’s life and career.
A few reviews have said it’s impossible to leave the movie and still have compassion left for Tyson, but I felt the exact opposite. Mainly because Tyson harbors absolutely no romanticism on his actions, and gives no excuses for his behavior. He expresses anger only at himself, and is brutal with himself and his emotions. His motivations are laid out with raw honesty. And at the heart of the story is the state of grace you feel for Tyson’s early career, guided every inch of the way by Cus D’Amato.
Hearing Tyson remember Cus D’Amato and his three years in jail as the two most formative experiences of his life are moments of near-perfect cinema, that I think I’ll remember for a very, very long time.
Two highlights of the movie for me, will be an 18-year old Tyson watching 1929 fights on Super 8 every night before bed, and his quoting of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad Of Reading Gaol:
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Movie web site: http://www.sonyclassics.com/tyson/site.html