Denzel Washington is extremely convincing in this sweeping biopic of the black activist and political icon Malcolm X by Spike Lee.
The man led a remarkable and fascinating life, born into a world of prejudice and violence and later seduced by a life of crime when he goes to the big city and encounters Delroy Lindo, a black man who commands power and more importantly, respect. This heralds the most interesting part of the film when Malcolm is imprisoned for 10 years for burglary and encounters his mentor who teaches him his salvation in the form of Islam. This leads to his rebirth as civil rights activist, only to find disenchantment and then betrayal at the hands of those he trusted most. This biopic has everything; crime, gangsters, prison drama, politics – both religious and racial – and a lesson in history. I do not know enough about the man’s real life to pass judgement on the film’s accuracy, but I can only assume there is a certain amount of rose-tinting in evidence; he could almost be ordained to sainthood by the film’s end. But it does hold an important underlying message; sometimes one can be seduced by the man who preaches the message, causing us to lose sight of the message itself.
A lesson perhaps even more pertinent today – especially for his fellow Muslims – than it was then.