Tyson

Year: 2008

Writer & Director: James Toback

Budget: ?

Gross: $543 124 (as of May 21st, 2009)

 

kind of like Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired, i went into Tyson with the expectation that the film had, as its goal, to change my perception of its subject - in this case mike tyson. however, as with the polanski documentary, it expanded, rather than changed my opinion by presenting all the facts beyond the headlines and the late-night jokes.

at its core, the film is an interview with mike tyson. i like to call it "tyson on tyson", and because we never hear the questions asked, the film plays like an hour and a half monologue by tyson about his life and himself.

Tyson is a film about potential. tyson had the potential to be the greatest boxer of all time and every time he got close he fell back into his lifestyle of self-destruction. it was so frustrating to watch as he, twice, became the champion of the world and both times lost it, as if he hadn't learned the first time. i'm sure we all know people like this - if we ourselves aren't one - who have so much potential and opportunity and keep fucking up just when you think they have everything.

tyson is a much smarter man than he gets credit for and he is also quite self-reflective and insightful about who he is and why he has done the things he has done. i don't know if he has always been that way, or if that is something that he has discovered as he has gotten older, looking back on his life and how, and why, things went the way they did. he is also completely genuine and honest and it is that openness and candor that make this film so interesting.

all the juicy items are covered: his marriage to robin givens, the rape conviction, don king, the ear biting, etc... however, this film isn't about going through all of those items step by step and re-evaluating them, like Wanted And Desired was about doing so for the polanski case. in Tyson, some of those items get a lot more time then others and they are all part of the grander point of the film which is tyson himself in his own words.

like i said at the beginning of this discussion, my opinion of mike tyson has been expanded rather then changed.  i didn't come away from the film thinking that mike tyson was the greatest guy ever or that he has been completely misunderstood in every way and now i want to be his bff. rather, the film has put things into a greater perspective, creating, for my part, a more rounded view of the man. the film is mike tyson saying "this is who i am. this is where i come from. this is why i have done the things i have done. this is me. not the me from the headlines or from the funny one-liners. this is a complete view of myself as i see it."

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