Kingsley Ben-Adir has a star turn as Bob Marley (Picture: Paramount Pictures)
But at times Bob Marley: One Love struggles to stick its landing, despite the wealth of material on offer.
It does, however, boast a sensational turn from star Kingsley Ben-Adir, the little glimpses of whose performance in the trailers do it zero justice without the full, rich context.
This, at least, should have many fans breathing a sigh of relief after some of those brutal jump-cut trailer clips on social media merely seemed to suggest an actor overwhelmed by his wig.
Quite remarkably, it’s taken more than 40 years since Bob Marley’s untimely death at 36 to deliver us a big-screen film about the musical legend.
Naturally, expectations are sky high with multiple generations of fans to serve – and such a larger-than-life figure to showcase – but the movie is often overly simplistic and on-the-nose in its approach.
This starts just minutes in when Marley turns off a worrying radio report and starts crooning ‘Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright’ to his kids in the backseat of the car.
Barbie star Kingsley Ben-Adir shines (Picture: Paramount Pictures) Provider: Paramount Pictures
Later, No Woman No Cry is played while Marley is with his gravely injured wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) in hospital, after an assassination attempt.
Understandably, Bob Marley: One Love is dominated by Marley himself, and Ben-Adir is more than up to the task of commanding an audience’s attention with his relaxed and utterly convincing performance.
The Barbie actor doesn’t look much like the real deal but channels his spirit in a way that easily and almost instantly dismisses any niggles in that department.
Lashana Lynch as Bob’s wife Rita (Picture: Paramount Pictures) Provider: Paramount Pictures
The film has done a good job of combining Ben-Adir’s voice with Marley’s (Picture: Paramount Pictures) Provider: Paramount Pictures
The film has also done a good job of combining Ben-Adir’s voice with Marley’s own vocals for the movie’s quieter, acoustic performances, letting moments like Redemption Song stand out just as much as the recreations of high-energy full concerts.
However, the only other part that gets some room to breathe is that of Rita, with No Time to Die actress Lynch adding some emotional heft through her relationship to Marley stemming from their connection as childhood sweethearts.
Rita is his backing singer, wife, supporter and mother to his kids – as well as a ‘soldier’, she reminds him – and is portrayed as one of few people who could have influence over him.
However, the rest of the Wailers and his band, an intrinsic part of both Marley’s professional musical life and personal life in some cases, are left frustratingly fuzzy and undefined in the background.
They’re only really called upon during the musical sequences – which are as joyous and frequent as you’d hope with such a plethora of songs to showcase – but it leaves things ill-defined otherwise.
The rest of the Wailers don’t have much of a part to play (Picture: Paramount Pictures) Provider: Paramount Pictures
Rita is Bob’s backing singer, wife, supporter and mother to his kids – as well as a ‘soldier’(Picture: Paramount Pictures)
James Norton is also awkwardly cast as Island Records boss Chris Blackwell, Top Boy’s Micheal Ward gets two scenes – although impactful – and Michael Gandolfini makes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance as a record executive.
It is, of course, a tricky balance to strike in a biopic with supporting characters, but it could have been better handled.
Bob Marley offers a lot of life to pack into a single film, even with the sensible decision made to focus on the late 1970s as Marley recorded the likes of Exodus in London and was called on to return to Jamaica to help soothe political unrest.
A career-making performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir(Picture: Paramount Pictures)
With talent behind the camera too in the shape of King Richard director Reinaldo Marcus Green, it’s a shame that the praises of Bob Marley: One Love can’t be sung full throat.
However, if you’re a Marley fan and curious to see a career-making performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir – more than up there with the likes of Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury and Austin Butler’s Elvis – then its star redeems the film.
Bob Marley: One Love is out in UK cinemas on Wednesday, February 14.
Got a story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us email@example.com, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.
Entertainment – MetroRead More