Reinaldo Marcus Green's biographical drama is a captivating and compelling depiction of a determined father whose unwavering belief in his daughters sets them on the path to greatness. As the eponymous character, Will Smith is mesmerizing and absolutely convincing.
Contrary to what a lot of people may think, King Richard isn't the story of Venus and Serena Williams; it is the story of their father whose efforts finally paid when they etched their names into the history books as two of the greatest tennis players the world has ever seen.
Given that Will Smith (one of my favourite actors) hadn't really taken on any very challenging roles recently, I was a bit skeptical when I heard he was attached to star in this film. After seeing it, I say the dude has convinced me he was born to play the role.
The story starts with the patriarch of the Williams family making the necessary moves to get Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) noticed by those in the tennis world so that they can prove their talent.
Richard is hell-bent on keeping his five daughters from the mean streets of Compton and his methods sometimes come across as unorthodox and even questionable. He sees something in Venus and Serena and no matter what anyone says, he will break every bone in his body to make sure everyone sees it too.
It isn't easy nurturing talent and keeping your kids grounded but when you're a black man in early '90s America, it's almost too daunting a task. For Richard though, his girls will be a beacon of hope for every black child in the world, and not even the uneven odds will break his spirit.
The girls finally get a chance when their father meets Paul Cohen (Tony Goldwyn), a coach whose input opens doors of opportunities and improves what Richard has already worked on.
Along the line, Richard ditches Cohen and makes a deal with another trainer, Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal), taking his family from their lowly life in Compton to a prestigious neighbourhood in Florida.
Things reach a crescendo when 14-year-old Venus goes toe to toe with the number one female tennis star in the world, hoping to give the world an upset the likes of which they have never seen before.
The plot is compelling and gets the viewer vested in the story. The pacing is perfect, all the actors make meaningful contributions, and the climax puts the viewer at the edge of his/her seat.
I just loved the way the director depicts the Williams family. They follow the strict rules put in place by their patriarch but whenever he gets out of line, his wife (played by the talented Aunjanue Ellis) calls him to order.
How can one talk about how good this film is without gushing about Will Smith's singular acting? As the protagonist, his accent, mannerisms, and poise point to total dedication in his portrayal of a remarkable man with an extraordinary drive.
Richard sometimes is a hard man, often doing the extreme to make sure his daughters imbibe what he is teaching them. All his life, he has always wanted to prove that he is not just "another dumb nigga" and his two girls will help him do that.
Smith embodies Richard and even though I don't know the man, I have a strong feeling he is pleased with the actor's performance.
Apart from Smith, two other characters stand out for their acting. They are Ellis and Bernthal. While the former plays the supporting wife and mother to perfection, the latter impresses as the coach whose willingness to take a chance in two black girls bring him more fame and money.
Also, the young actresses who play Venus and Serena are outstanding. Venus' calculation contrasts with her sister's ferocity as a fighter. Both are instrumental in making the story truly memorable.
I believe enough has been said and those who haven't seen King Richard should do as Will Smith makes every damn second worth watching.
Before I conclude my review, I would like to quote something Richard's character says in the film. He says his mother told him that "there is nothing as dangerous as a woman who can think. There is nothing she can't do." This pretty much summarizes the driving force behind his character's confidence in his daughters and it's a quote I completely agree with.
Final word: King Richard is far better than I expected and Smith is just phenomenal in the lead role. I highly recommend it to movie lovers.
Jonathan Majors stars as Nate Love, an outlaw who reassembles his former gang to seek revenge against the man who killed his parents.