Feature

Tyson

Director James Toback spent a decade getting to know Mike Tyson, and his documentary is a “pipeline" into the former heavyweight champion's "inner world."

Directed by James Toback(R)

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A sympathetic portrait of the controversial boxer

Tyson “knocks the wind out of you,” said David Edelstein in New York. Since first casting Mike Tyson in a bit role in 1999’s Black & White, director James Toback has spent a decade getting to know one of the most fearsome and controversial athletes in sports history. His intimate portrait is “an 88-minute stream-of-consciousness monologue” from the boxer himself that leaves you “sympathetic, perplexed, appalled, and enthralled.” Because of the mutual trust between filmmaker and subject, the film becomes a “pipeline into Tyson’s inner world—a dangerous place that all at once makes sense.” The street brawler is completely disarmed here, said Allison Samuels in Newsweek. You sense that the former heavyweight champ—now 42, retired, and struggling to be a family man—“has got nothing left to lose.” It’s surprising enough that Tyson is “willing to explore every aspect of his life,” said Todd McCarthy in Variety. What’s more shocking is that he takes responsibility for nearly everything—with the notable exception of the 1991 rape he actually served time for. Toback has “succeeded in illuminating one of the most polarizing, complex, and misunderstood figures of our time.”

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