“One Night in Miami” is a Riveting Film

One Night in Miami a riveting film
Amazon Studios

“One Night in Miami” was first an award-winning play by Kemp Powers, with its world premiere in LA in 2013. Powers’ play features four friends and icons (NFL star Jim Brown, boxing champion Cassius Clay, activist Malcolm X, and pop singer Sam Cooke) during a memorable night in Miami.

Amazon Studios has released a riveting film version of the play, with script adapted by Power, available to stream on Amazon Prime starting Jan. 15. “One Night in Miami” is directed by award-winning actress Regina King. After trying her hand at directing a number of TV shows, King proves to be a great choice to direct the film version of the play.

One Night in Miami Cast

The ensemble cast stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X, Aldis Hodge as Jim Brown, Leslie Odom Jr. as Sam Cooke, and Eli Goree as 22-year-old Cassius Clay (soon to become Muhammed Ali).

Powers and King wisely expand the play to include scenes from each man’s life before the big night. We see Clay losing an early fight (but not his sass). Then Brown being warmly welcomed before he’s insulted by a white friend (Beau Bridges in a cameo). Malcolm X and his wife discuss his plans to recruit Clay as a Muslim, and Cooke fights prejudice as a performer at the Copacabana in spite of his recording success.

But on the night of Feb. 25, 1964, these four African-American legends came together. After watching Clay upset Sonny Liston for the heavyweight championship title at Miami Convention Hall, the friends meet to talk—and sometimes argue–in a Miami motel room. The room is carefully guarded by a Nation of Islam bodyguard (Lance Reddick), and most of the film’s action takes place inside the motel room.

Powerful Performances

All four of the leads deliver powerful performances, with Odom’s vocals sounding eerily like Cooke’s. Goree also sounds and swaggers just like Clay, who’s wavering between becoming Muslim or being the life of the party. Hodge emanates the kind of tightly controlled strength embodied by football great turned Hollywood actor Brown.

Ben-Adir portrays Malcolm X (who was assassinated a short time later) as a wise but troubled prophet. He knows his time may be limited, but passionately tries to make the other three men see how badly their voices are needed to help other Black men find their voice.

These prophetic words of Malcolm X are shown onscreen at the end of the film.
“It is a time for martyrs now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood. That’s the only thing that can save this country.”

Amazon Studios “One Night in Miami” is rated R for language throughout the film. The drama is produced by Jessica Calder, Keith Calder, and Jody Klein, and directed by Regina King from the script by Kemp Powers. It runs one hour and 50 minutes. After a limited theatrical run, the film opens Jan. 15 on Amazon Prime.