The Reel Review


Reggae singer and peace activist Bob Marley risks his life to play a 1978 peace concert for the people of his native Jamaica, a nation torn apart by years of political violence, in this biopic starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch as his wife Rita, and James Norton as his record producer Chris Blackwell.

Kingsley Ben-Adir in Bob Marley: One Love

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (King Richard, Joe Bell) commits the cardinal sin of the biopic – he plays it safe, making Marley so bland and boring that he seems in the way of his own story. Kingsley Ben-Adir (Peaky Blinders, Vera) clearly put a lot of energy into the role and gets the distinctive Jamaican Patois down so well that he and others are often hard to understand (turn on the subtitles), but more often than not, Kingsley looks like he’s imitating Marley instead of becoming him. Lashana Lynch (The Woman King, No Time to Die) does an excellent job playing Marley’s long put-upon wife Rita, who Marley cheated on incessantly, but the philandering is only alluded to. An underutilized James Norton is barely there as record producer Chris Blackwell.

Kingsley Ben-Adir in Bob Marley: One Love

Throughout the sluggish film there is a pensiveness, as if it is on the verge of making its point – be it Marley’s politics, his Rastafarian religion or the revolutionary vibe of reggae, but every time, nothing ever happens of any substance and we never really do get to know Bob Marley beyond his love for jogging and playing soccer. The rest is boring musical montages, trite flashbacks, bad wigs and even worse dialogue. The charismatic Marley deserved so much better than this uninspired dud.


• Kingsley Ben-Adir was initially hesitant to take on the role, because he is not Jamaican and cannot play the guitar. But he immersed himself in the Jamaican Patois for a year to prepare for the role.

Ziggy Marley performing

• Following Bob Marley’s death from cancer in 1981, eldest son Ziggy started touring with the Wailers. Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers won three Grammy Awards (including the 1988 prize for Best Reggae Album), before disbanding in 2002. Ziggy continues to perform as a solo act.

Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and right, interiors of the Goldeneye Estate he owns in Jamaica, where Ian Fleming wrote many James Bond novels

• The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has described Island Records founder Chris Blackwell as the single person most responsible for turning the world onto reggae music. Currently 86, Blackwell owns the Island Outpost collection of luxury hotels in Jamaica, which includes the Goldeneye estate where writer Ian Fleming lived and wrote many of his James Bond novels.


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