Tyson | Chicago Reader

Tyson

I can't say I've ever wanted to be in Mike Tyson's head, but this documentary by James Toback certainly took me there, and I won't soon forget it. The former heavyweight champ served as producer and provides all the narration, so this is effectively autobiography; he's bracingly candid about his past mistakes, though he has his limits (Desiree Washington, the beauty queen who sent him to prison for rape in 1992, is a “wretched swine of a woman”). Toback nervily uses split-screens and cross-faded sound to cherry-pick through the boxer's ramblings; archival footage illustrates Tyson's career in the ring, from his ferocious ascent in the mid-80s through his disgraceful biting of Evander Holyfield in 1997 and the humbling quick-buck fights that heralded his retirement. The resulting portrait shows a seriously troubled man whose brutality was bred into him on the punishing streets of Brooklyn and whose modest wisdom seems as hard-won as any title. Tyson's fight career may be over, but his battle with himself has many rounds to go. R, 90 min.

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