Tyson documentary pulls no punches
No matter what you think of him, Mike Tyson has cut a tremendous swath across the public consciousness. He was the youngest heavyweight champion ever, he was convicted of rape and he twice bit the ears of Evander Holyfield in a heavyweight title fight.
With such a strong, compelling subject it would be hard to make a bad documentary and director James Toback uses his close personal relationship with Tyson to draw out a portrait that casts big bad Tyson in a much more sympathetic light. Still, no matter how many shots you have of Mike Tyson looking contemplative on a beach at sunset, words like the following still come out of his mouth:
Don King “is a wretched, slimy, reptilian motherfucker.”
“When I was falsely accused of raping that wretched swine of a woman, Desiree Washington, it was the most horrible time of my life.”
And that’s why Mike Tyson is such an interesting person, he’ll say whatever is on his mind, with little regard for what other people will think. Seeing this unvarnished Tyson can be shocking but then you can see Tyson breaking up over losing his guardian, trainer and mentor Cus D’Amato.
Seeing a man who once dominated the heavyweight division have such a deep well of fear is shocking. Tyson is still very much a scared child even at 40-plus years of age. Another revelation is that Tyson was most likely an undiagnosed childhood asthmatic. This might explain why he always tried to bomb his opponents out early in the fight and why he performed so poorly late in fights.
Tyson, despite his high-pitched voice and many faults, can tell a good story. He’s gone from unimaginable highs to terrible lows, from childhood robber to blowing more than $400 million dollars over the course of his career.
Most of the movie consists of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson speaking to the camera. The other visuals consist of archival footage, still photographs and contemplative shots of Tyson on a beach at sunset. Really, The visuals are not what makes the movie compelling
With such a death of talking head footage Toback turns to Incredible Hulk/24 comic book tiling of the screen. This quickly gets tiresome as does the layering of the audio during this effect. Thankfully it’s limited to only a few sequences. Perhaps a Toback wanted to spice up talking head footage, regardless the effect is distracting and doesn’t add to the story.
For the interactive Tyson documentary site click here.
A word to the wise, Tyson is a producer and Toback is a close personal friend. There is no attempt to tell the other side of the story here, this is Mike Tyson telling his side of the Mike Tyson story. Take it for what it is.
I can only hope that this movie helps Tyson on his path to being a fully functioning member of society. The recent news of Tyson’s four-year-old daughter Exodus Tyson dying in a freak treadmill accident is extremely disheartening. Despite everything he’s done I came out of Tyson thinking that maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.