Writer: Arnold Perl, Spike Lee (Screenplay) Alex Haley, Malcolm X (Book)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr, Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee, Theresa Randle, Kate Vernon
Plot: Biographical epic of the controversial and influential Black Nationalist leader, from his early life and career as a small-time gangster, to his ministry as a member of the Nation of Islam.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Verdict: Denzel’s Powerhouse
Story: Malcolm X starts as Malcolm X (Washington) himself tells us all about his childhood and troubles with the white clans men his parents had. We pick up his story as he works with Shorty (Lee) during ‘war time’ (I am not sure which war though). We see how Malcolm starts working for gangster West Indian Archie (Lindo) who enjoys how street smart Malcolm is.
Betraying Archie, Malcolm finds himself trying to go out on his own only to find himself in jail and this is where he gets taught the ways of Elijah Muhammad (Freeman Jr) who teaches him the way of God and Islam so when he is free from prison he can preach against the white men in America. Malcolm X went onto become one of the most iconic figures in the equal rights movement even if he ways were different to Martin Luthor King.
Malcolm X is an extremely long look at one of the iconic men in the equal rights movement in America. We get to see his full transformation from gangster to preacher to revolutionary leader. The story is extremely detailed but it would be fair to say we could have had a lot cut out from this film so it doesn’t take nearly 3 and half hours to get through. This is a good history lesson in the end but I would say it is only a one-time watch.
Denzel gives us a brilliant leading man performance showing all his potential to be one of the biggest stars in the industry. When you look at the supporting cast we don’t get too much out of most of these characters which is disappointing as their story is just as important to Malcolm’s and with a film this long we could have done more to create a more equal story for these characters.
Overall: This is a good even if long history lesson.