Tyson (2008) – 3.5/5

A decent, entertaining documentary that skims over Mike Tyson’s more “controversial” behavior in order to paint him as a misunderstood softy with a heart of gold. I didn’t buy it.

The film uses some weird techniques I had never seen in a documentary before, namely, superimposing scenes all over the screen ala “24” with overlapping dialogue and weird dissolve effects. It was distracting, if anything. Creative, but unnecessary.

It’s entertaining, though. I didn’t know much about Tyson going in, but now feel as though I know a little bit more; he was a great boxer, on par with Muhammad Ali and his ilk. But he was also an egomaniac, and a touch crazy, and his career, along with his credibility, quickly went to hell. He’s still filthy rich, though, so he probably doesn’t mind.

Still, the film glosses over a lot of Tyson’s more violent criminal behavior. A rape sentence is dismissed with an “oh, the woman was probably lying.” His biting of Holyfield twice during a match is given an “eh, he had it coming.” And countless other similar offenses are either ignored or shrugged off as misinterpretations of “what really happened.”

I understand that the filmmaker is Tyson’s friend, and wants to paint him as a hero rather than a violent, unstable criminal, but it’s not reality. Tyson, for all his talent in the ring, is a violent individual; quick to anger, aggressive, compulsive, irrational. He even says so on a few occasions throughout the film. Dismissing these facts and emphasizing only the good, though noble, is little more than manipulation on the part of the filmmakers.

Still, it’s an entertaining movie, worth a watch. Just don’t assume it’s an accurate portrayal of the man.

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