Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures

Bob Marley: One Love Review: A Decent Biopic

Every little thing is gonna be alright. Bob Marley: One Love is the latest biopic about a famous musician. These types of movies have been running rampant in Hollywood lately, as we’ve seen in Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Elvis, and an upcoming Antoine Fuqua biopic about Michael Jackson. This film is about a global symbol of Jamaican music, focusing on his assassination attempt and the repercussions of that on his career and his impact on the world. While this is not one of the better musician biopics of late, it manages to be just interesting enough to hit the mark.

The film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley. Ben-Adir has consistently turned in excellent performances in Peaky Blinders, Secret Invasion, and Barbie. Bob Marley: One Love feels like a vehicle to propel him into the public eye as a serious actor. He’s commendable here, being given the challenging task of playing one of the most iconic people who has ever lived. Ben-Adir captures something superb with this performance, changing his voice and accent entirely and embodying the way Marley would speak and perform. You can tell Ben-Adir put in a lot of work and research into getting the portrayal accurate.

Bob Marley: One Love is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, who previously directed Will Smith to an Oscar-winning performance in King Richard. This movie was dropped in February and will likely not receive much awards attention next year. However, that’s not to discount Green’s phenomenal work behind the camera here. He brings the story to life very well, and he directs excellent performances from Ben-Adir and his co-star, Lashana Lynch, who plays Rita Marley in the film. There’s a lot of drama in this narrative, and the script demands a lot from them, but they rise up to the challenge and knock it out of the park.

The screenplay from Green and co-writers Zach Baylin, Terence Winter, and Frank E. Flowers goes for an interesting angle here. This movie is not exactly an origin story for him. We don’t see much of his childhood or what made him fall in love with music or anything like that. We also don’t see much of his rise to the top with the success of his Rastaman Vibration album. The film mainly focuses on the assassination attempt on Marley during a period of political unrest in Jamaica. Two days after the attempt, Marley performed at the Smile Jamaica Concert. It’s a wonderful display of his adversity and commitment to peace.

Bob Marley: One Love is a movie about the strength of music and how it unites people. It serves as a celebration of Jamaican music and culture, showcasing many of them throughout. Marley’s emotions can be held at arm’s length for a bit too much of the movie, but whenever the film delves into his paranoia after getting shot or a few of his personal relationships, it shines. There’s an argument scene that is written and performed quite well. However, the second act can feel a bit disjointed and directionless. The narrative framework is not strong enough to make it as compelling as it should be.

As a result, Bob Marley: One Love does not reach its full potential. We have outstanding performances leading the film, but there are a few issues that hold this movie back from being the classic that it is. While there is Jamaican music and a few of Marley’s songs in the film, the soundtrack feels like an afterthought. The scenes are all acceptable, but it can be a bit of a somber viewing experience. Marley’s music is classic, and it brought happiness to many who needed it, but none of that can be said about this movie. It’s the type of film that is perfectly watchable as it happens but doesn’t have the staying power it needs to be truly special.

One of the shining elements of Bob Marley: One Love is how it positions Marley’s message. It is very much about his music, but the more important aspect is the impact his music has. He strives for peace throughout the entire movie, and although he died at the very young age of 36, the legacy he left for the world is immeasurable. It’s a must-watch for those who love his music. Although there are issues holding the film back, it manages to explore a few wonderful aspects of his life. Personally, I think the film could have benefitted from exploring more of his music and how it impacted the genre, as well as viewing Marley’s life from a more holistic lens. It’s not one of the better music biopics, nor is it the best in Green’s directorial career, but it manages to be a touching, beautiful movie that can make one love.

SCORE: 6/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.

Disclosure: ComingSoon attended a press screening for our Bob Marley: One Love review.

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