Starring: Mike Tyson, Cus D’Amato, Trevor Berbick
Directed by: James Toback (“Black and White”)
Written by: James Toback (“Black and White”)
While “Tyson” won’t completely knock out all the criticism and peculiar glances the former boxing heavyweight champion will receive for the rest of his life, the extremely intimate documentary by director and friend James Toback (“Black and White”) does give a fascinating insight into the mind of a man very few people think of as more than a brute athlete.
Through heartfelt and what sometimes sounds like stream-of-conscious monologue, Tyson opens up in ways we’ve never seen him or any other professional athlete do on film. From his candid views on his own life to the unfortunate events that have plagued his entire career as a fighter, Tyson speaks eloquently and from the heart and director Toback gives him free range to say what he feels. Toback should be commended, not only for making this film, but for recognizing that Tyson was in the right place in his life to deliver the type of power punches he’s accustomed to, this time without his gloves.
Who knows what type of film “Tyson” might have been if it had been done at the end of his reign as a boxer or even this year as he grieves over the recent death of his young daughter followed by his oddly-timed marriage two weeks later. What we do know is that Tyson – even under the same exact conditions – has given part of himself in a way that will never be duplicated again.
Unlike his performance in the ring through the 80s and early 90s, Tyson is not on a stage here. He is speaking from another place; a place he would never let anyone near before. He’s not the same man that instilled fear into the hearts of boxers at the pinnacle of his career. Tyson is broken. He is a tragic figure. He is far from the self-parody we’ve seen in past interviews and press conferences. Toback saw this and has created an emotionally-charged documentary. While it’s not something that hasn’t been attempted before, it is the only time the door has been kicked wide open for everyone to see who is behind it. Is “Iron Mike” an illusive monster or a sympathetic man? With “Tyson,” it’s easier to believe the latter no matter what you thought about him before.