Based on a play that tells the fictional account of a real night, 25 February 1964, One Night in Miami is an incredibly relevant film for 2020, Regina King's feature film debut premiering at the BFI London Film Festival during Black History Month and a year when the Black Lives Matter movement has become much more prominent with the injustices in America being seen and protested all round the world.

After Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) wins the World Heavyweight Championship from Sonny Liston in Miami, he meets with Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) to discuss their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 60s.

One Night in Miami is a fascinating watch, Kemp Powers adapting his own play to the screen with a screenplay that pits iconic figures and their ideaoligies against one another in a film mostly set in one location. Introducing each of the characters in their everyday vocations and the struggles they faced in being black men sets the film up for a rather powerful main act where they discuss how they can use their positions of varied success to be heard during the civil rights movement.

The contrasting feelings of how they should use their positions of power, whether it be through music, sports or activism, makes for a really intriguing and captivating set up and Regina King directs it with aplomb, giving the actors the chance to shine on such a narratively tight project, Tami Reiker's cinematography impressing too in the confined spaces of the motel room in particular.

One Night in Miami also excels in the performance department, the four mightily impressive leads each delivering a performance of power and stature that honours the iconic figures they are portraying. Leslie Odom Jr. came close to being the best of the bunch as Sam Cooke but he was just beaten to it by Kingsley Ben-Adir's incredible portrayal of Malcolm X, the passion he had for his friends to do their best and not waste their potential being powered home in Ben-Adir's excellent performance.

What Regina King has achieved here with One Night in Miami, her debut feature, is nothing short of excellent, a tale of powerful black men questioning their own ideaologies as they clash with one another at a time in history where their voices would be better united against the injustices they faced. 

Verdict: ★★★★½


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