It was 2001. Shortly after the attacks on 9/11. Directed by Michael Mann and starring the likes of Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, John Voight, Mario Van Peebles, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Joe Morton; the film ALI is released to critical acclaim and earning two Oscar nominations in short order.
It would be easy to tell the up-from-the-streets story of a young Kentucky boy named Cassius Clay. Tell the story about rising to the challenges of professional boxing as Clay battles his way to the national stage. The formulas for that story were all written long ago.
But that’s not where this film goes.
ALI (the film) asked some tough questions of a Country that found itself thrust into a war in Afghanistan. Obviously, Michael Mann had no idea that the United States would be the victim of a terrorist attack in the months leading up to the release of this Muhammad Ali biopic, but he doesn’t “pull any punches” (sitcom laugh track.) Instead, ALI (again, the film) faces issues like race and religion head on, as it tells the story of the greatest fight of Muhammed Ali’s life: his fight against the United States of America, spanning from 1964 to 1974.