Critics Consensus

A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.



Total Count: 143


Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,989
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Movie Info

"Tyson" is acclaimed indie director James Toback's stylistically inventive portrait of a mesmerizing Mike Tyson. Toback allows Tyson to reveal himself without inhibition and with eloquence and a pervasive vulnerability. Through a mixture of original interviews and archival footage and photographs, a startlingly complex, fully-rounded human being emerges. The film ranges from Tyson's earliest memories of growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn through his entry into the world of boxing, to his rollercoaster ride in the funhouse of worldwide fame and fortunes won and lost. It is the story of a legendary and uniquely controversial international athletic icon, a figure conjuring radical questions of race and class. In its depiction of a man rising from the most debased circumstances to unlimited heights, destroyed by his own hubris, "Tyson" emerges as a modern day version of classic Greek tragedy.

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Critic Reviews for Tyson

All Critics (143) | Top Critics (47)

  • Just relentless lisping monotonous speech that makes the prospect of entering the ring with Mike seem attractive if only because it will be over sooner.

    Aug 9, 2009 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • There is something compelling about the way he presents his version of the stories and scandals that surround him.

    Aug 7, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Half-appealing, half-pathetic.

    Jul 16, 2009
  • It all adds up to a fascinating psychological study, a film that goes beyond both the public persona and the fighter's own spin to get at the frightened, angry, explosive, yet utterly understandable boy who became a very troubled and very public man.

    Jun 24, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The most remarkable revelation of the movie is its subject's thoughtful, reflective eloquence and unflinching self-perception...Tyson may or may not be entirely who he says he is, but he's probably not who we thought he was, either.

    Jun 13, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Listening to Tyson tell his side of the story, you come to understand him with new depth and complexity.

    Jun 11, 2009 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for Tyson

  • Dec 07, 2012
    Compelling documentary on a man that I haven't thought very highly of over the years. I truly believe that he just says the first thing that comes into his head and takes it as truth. Unlikeable in his youth, he has become pathetic in old age but this train wreck produces an excellent subject for a film.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 21, 2012
    Don't like how it's told from Tyson's point of view. As usual, he can't take the blame for any of his convictions; it's always someone else's fault. I find his story interesting but the film forces us to feel sympathetic for someone who is a rapist and a criminal. I don't really care for him to be honest, and in fact think he's a big liar. Aside from Mike Tyson, the film is badly edited; the multiple frame transitions become distracting after awhile. Also, James Toback should of interviewed more people to get another perspective on Tyson.
    Eric S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2010
    I don't do a lot of documentary reviews here because giving a score to a documentary just seems odd. Here you are...taking a real life situation/story and you're giving a score to it as if it were just any other movie where things can actually be manipulated, whereas in documentaries you just can't control what's going to happen. Plus a lot of documentaries aren't filmed to be entertaining (with a few exceptions of course), they're meant to educate and to shed new light on subjects, or in this case a very controversial sports figure. Personally, I've never been a big boxing fan. Hell I'm not a big sports fan periods, I follow sports casually...as in every couple of months I put on ESPN and just catch up with what's going on in the world of sports. With that said, I really wanted to see this documentary because, for some reason, I've always had some sort of sympathy for Mike Tyson, especially in his later years. Here's this guy who went from being one of the most famous figures in sports to pretty much next to bankrupt. To the point where he did sort of like an exhibition boxing tour where he'd go around fighting regular Joe's for cash. Plus not to mention all the mocking he's had to endure over all the years and leeches using him because of his celebrity and I just sort of feel sorry for the guy. Granted that's not to say that I approve of a lot of Mike's behavior and there's no way in HELL that I can agree with the, alleged, rape of Desiree Washington. There's just no way in hell I agree with that. Rapists are just scum. But from what I've read so far, all signs seem to point to Tyson doing it, so yea. But yea, this documentary is great, Mike really doesn't hold anything back. He goes way in depth and you get real sense of why he was as controversial as he was. Not to say, that makes it right but it's a very sympathetic look at a man who's been about as controversial a figure as is possible in sports. And it's a good thing to hear HIS side of the story and how he readily admits his mistakes and never makes any excuses for the stupid stuff he did. Surprisingly, Mike Tyson is very eloquent and well spoken. I just thought that with all the years of boxing and all the damage his head took (which probably wasn't a whole hell of a lot now that I think about it cause Mike was a KILLING MACHINE) would lead you to believe he wouldn't speak as well as he does. At the end of the movie, after having listened to this man for 90 minutes, I really did want him to succeed in his life and I really hope that he manages to get his life back together after his rise and fall.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2010
    In Tyson, James Toback sets up a camera, sits the ex-champ down on a couch and lets him talk. And cry. And boast. And self-examine. And, mostly, self-justify. Toback calls his subject "a figure of staggering complexity." Actually, he's a figure of rather sad simplicity, a frightened and fatherless boy who grew up brutalized and grew to brutalize other people. That the ring afforded him, for a while, a chance to do that legally made him his fortune -- most of which he went on to throw away. What's doubly tragic is that Tyson still can't understand his own downfall. He was convicted of rape in 1992 and spent three years in prison. On camera now, he angrily declares his innocence, calling his accuser "a wretched swine of a woman." His insistence soon rings a little hollow ("I may have taken advantage of women before, but I never took advantage of her.") When he talks about women -- "I want to ravish them," "I want to dominate them sexually" -- it's in the language of aggression, not affection. Yet Tyson still thinks he's a good guy -- more sinned against then sinning, brought down by "leeches." By only interviewing Tyson, Toback lets him get away with it, too. Do Tyson's ex-wives have anything pertinent to add? Does Evander Holyfield, perhaps, have a differing point of view? It's a good bet, but you won't find them here. Instead, you will find a grab bag of occasional split-screens and sometimes overlapping or echoing dialogue -- all of which does more to obscure than illuminate the self-deceiving subject. It's a long, sad slide show of a man who had everything and lost it. The saddest thing is that this great fighter still doesn't seem to realize that he was his own fiercest opponent. Some elements of Tyson's story are utterly fascinating -- sadly, none of it gets more than a glossed over explanation (surely Tyson's hands-on involvement with the film had a lot to do with that). In the end, this documentary doesn't come anywhere close to recognizing its potential.
    Jonathan H Super Reviewer

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