directed by James Toback
James Toback’s documentary about the man who could have been the greatest boxer of all time is simultaneously mesmerizing and disturbing, but one thing is absolutely certain: you have never seen Kid Dynamite like this. Mike Tyson will forever be a name synonymous with everything that go wrong with a young and talented athlete, much like Jay Adams of the professional skateboarding world (that reference may be lost on many, due to the fact that skateboarding isn’t nearly as popular as boxing). Under the care of boxing coach Cus D’Amato, Mike Tyson went from an angry, troubled street kid to a one man arsenal built to devastate. Tyson’s speed and power are legendary, and Toback gives us plenty of the Tyson “greatest hits” reel: knockout after knockout after spectacular knockout. Perhaps it is because Toback and Tyson know each other, have a history with one another (Tyson delivers a terrifyingly real performance in Toback’s interesting film, Black & White), but the doc percolates with the raw power of Tyson’s story in his own words, from his criminally destructive youth, through his rise and fall, ending finally somewhere in between those worlds. The doc itself is in no way great (all those split screens, yeesh), but it’s Tyson’s words that propel the film, filling you with unease, even on screen he somehow has the power to intimidate. His line of thinking, his speech pattern, his repetition of certain words, all have the cumulative effect of making you uncomfortable and fascinated all at once, causing you to ask, silently, “what goes on inside your mind, Mike?” Tyson could have been an untouchable talent, an athlete with natural abilities so beyond his contemporaries that to challenge him was almost certain folly, but things, sadly, were not to play out that way for him. What stays with you after the doc ends is not the tragedy of human events, but the deep, frightening unknowable depths of Tyson’s inner workings.