Big George Foreman review

Big George Foreman review | Legendary boxer gets the wholesome biopic treatment

★★★☆☆
Khris Davis plays iconic boxer George Foreman in George Tillman Jr.’s biopic. Read our review of Big George Foreman. 

★★★☆☆


The story of George Foreman, a two-time world heavyweight champion, minister, Olympic gold medallist and the face of a grill, seems like it should have been told years ago. It’s a story that seems a little too good to be true; a proper rags-to-riches narrative, with more twists and turns than you can count. 

Foreman gets the biopic treatment from writer-director George Tillman Jr. Rather than focus on one specific part of Foreman’s life, Big George Foreman attempts to cram in the boxer’s entire life into two hours, which proves to be the film’s downfall, despite compelling performances. 

We first meet young George as he’s running away from the cops as a child and hides underneath a house, smearing himself with literal shit in order to fool the police dogs. It’s mostly uphill from there; teenage Foreman (now played by Khris Davis) joins the Job Corps and meets Desmond (John Magaro), who later becomes his financial manager. 

big george foreman davis

Credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

The film chronicles Foreman’s professional and personal life. Forest Whitaker’s Doc Broadus introduces Foreman to the sport of boxing. A year later, the young, hungry Foreman is an Olympic gold medalist, and sets his sights on being the next heavyweight world champion. 

Foreman later suffers a near-death experience after a fight and retires to become a minister, having found God. After some bad investments, George, now in his forties, decides to give boxing another go and chase an impossible goal; to become the heavyweight champion of the world (again). 

The film’s full title is Big George Foreman: The Miraculous Story Of The Once And Future Heavyweight Champion Of The World which has been wisely shortened to just Big George Foreman. The title aptly represents the film: overstuffed and far too ambitious. Foreman’s story has been told in its entirety; a tighter focus would have perhaps allowed for more in-depth exploration of the larger themes of the film. 

For Davis, playing Foreman is seemingly the opportunity of a lifetime. His performance is compelling, but strangely held back. This might just be due to the rushed approach on Tillman Jr.’s part; Davis isn’t necessarily allowed the time and space to organically develop his character as the film simply has to move forward to the next big event in Foreman’s life. 

In fact, it’s the women of Big George Foreman that leave the biggest impression. Jasmine Mathews is brilliantly thorny as Foreman’s second wife Mary Joan while Sonja Sohn is capable as the boxer’s religious mother. Shein Mompremier brings a lot of gravitas to her relatively small role as Paula, Foreman’s first wife who seems to be somewhat of an amalgamation of several women. 

Big George Foreman hopes that you’re not too familiar with the ins and outs of Foreman’s personal life; Foreman was married four times before Mary Joan came along, but the more unsavoury bits of his life are left vague. 

The film is at its best when it focuses on the boxing. The ring becomes a mythical, magical place and The Hate U Give director films the fight scenes with tenacity. Even though we know the outcome of the fights, Tillman Jr. manages to infuse them with genuine danger and stakes. It’s not quite Creed III in terms of vision and execution, but as a biopic, Big George Foreman does exactly what you expect it to, and it does it well enough.  


Big George Foreman is in cinemas 28 April. 


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