Series: review of “Mike: beyond Tyson”, by Steven Rogers (Star+)

The creative team of I, TONYA (I AM TONYA), the film that fictionalized the story of figure skater Tonya Harding, made up of screenwriter Steven Rogers and director Craig Gillespie (who directs the first four episodes of a total of eight here), is responsible for this miniseries about the Mike Tyson’s life narrated using a curious formal mechanism and a somewhat humorous tone reminiscent of that film starring Margot Robbie about an athlete involved in scandals.

Here, the life of the American boxer (played with an undoubted talent for mimesis by the actor from MOONLIGHT Trevante Rhodes) is told from a stage, using as a starting point the one-man act that Tyson himself did on Broadway in 2012, called “Undisputed Truth”. There Tyson was telling episodes of his life that were generally dramatic but using a lot of humor. And the anecdotes displayed here begin with his monologue and go chronologically narrating the central points of his life.

But it is not the only unusual formal mechanism. Within each of the scenes, Rhodes himself speaks to the camera more than once, breaking the so-called “fourth wall” to reflect or comment on what we are seeing. This double dramatic distance generates a certain “separation” between what is seen and the spectator, something that adds to the somewhat peculiar mannerisms of the boxer (his seseo, his soft voice, his strikingly delicate gestures) that always seem to go against the current. with the violence he exerted both inside and outside the ring.

That narrative mechanism and the humor that surrounds everything are the most striking resources of a series that, apart from that, does little more than go through the great successes of the life of this boxer born in poverty, with a mother with the that he did not understand himself and that he learned to fight to vent his frustrations and at the same time defend himself against the bullies of the then dangerous neighborhood of Brooklyn in which he lived. The first two episodes – all short, less than 30 minutes long – will deal with Tyson’s childhood and adolescence, his continuous stint in juvenile detention centers and how “Cus” D’Amato ( Harvey Keitel), the peculiar and obsessive man who would make him a real boxer but, more than anything, the father Mike never had.

In the next two we already deal with the famous Tyson, who liquidates rivals one after another with amazing speed and power, but also the one who begins to get into financial and personal problems once he begins to be managed by the famous agent Don King. , who did nothing but leave him free to his most eccentric desires and excesses. The complicated marriage of Robin Givens (which the series will feature a supposedly funny undertone of misogyny) will be the next step in a career that, due to the briefness of its fights and the repetition of its triumphs, begins to be more interesting and attractive for the press for what happens outside the ring.

The fifth will be a different episode, since it will abandon the mechanism of the stage as a trigger for scenes and will give the word (and the narration) to Desirée Washington (Li Eubanks), the 18-year-old girl who was raped by Tyson in 1991, who which began a complicated trial with many racial tensions, which led the boxer to jail, a stage that will be reviewed in the next episode, resuming the slightly humorous tone. The fifth, however, is the hardest in relation to Tyson, since there the version of his story disappears and, with that, the winks that he puts to each complicated event in his life. From the girl’s perspective, one can finally see the monstrous side of the former boxer.

Mike It will generate more curiosity among those who do not know the history of Tyson, or only remember a couple of loose things (yes, that famous bite) than among boxing fans for whom the series will do nothing more than review what everyone already knows. What remains outside of that is the aforementioned tone, which at times can be nice but at others it becomes intrusive, almost exhausting. It does not help much that the narrated dialogues and situations are not up to the ingenuity of the production. What happens inside the armed device remains very conventional. Not to mention the scenes in the ring, which work more as a parody than as something with any contact with reality.

It is known that Tyson himself is against this series, but the reasons are surely economic or contractual since what is seen in Mike It is not more serious or paints it in a worse way than he painted himself in the one-man show, in books and in countless interviews. In fact, for the number of brutalities committed by the man, one could even say that the series leaves him well off, he understands it, almost justifying a good part of his actions based on his past, his poverty and personal circumstances. of the. as in his one man show, Tyson admits many of his worst moments but at the same time he victimizes himself, always finding someone else to hold responsible. Blaming others seems to always be the best excuse for almost everything, both in art and in life.

Series: review of “Mike: beyond Tyson”, by Steven Rogers (Star+) – Micropsia