• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE Brings the Reggae Legend to Life on the Big Screen!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Feb 13, 2024
BOB MARLEY: ONE LOVE is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green. The film stars Kingsley Ben-Adir, Lashana Lynch, and James Norton.

Bob Marley was born into a war-torn Jamaica, rising up to become a global reggae star despite the odds being against him. Seeing conditions are worse than ever in the latter half of the 1970s and wanting a better life for his wife and children, Marley continues to play concerts, spreading a message of peace and love and hoping to reach people around the globe, all the while battling a cancer diagnosis.

If there’s any musician in history deserving of a biopic, it’s Bob Marley. His music and message are timeless. It’s largely thanks to him that reggae music is respected on an international level. Despite his death from cancer at age 36 in 1981, Marley’s music is more popular than it’s ever been. While I admit to not being someone who’s been a die-hard follower of Marley’s music, I certainly would consider myself a casual fan. I was certainly eagerly awaiting ONE LOVE, wanting to learn more about the life of this man who remains revered around the globe. The casting and performances are top notch, and the production values are nothing less, though the movie sadly suffers from covering too small a time period of the singer’s life and sometimes losing its way.

A Bob Marley movie doesn’t work if the man playing Bob Marley isn’t up to the task. Thankfully, ONE LOVE’s casting of Kingsley Ben-Adir as the reggae legend was the right choice. He captures the mannerisms, the depth, the personality, and the voice of this musical icon, truly allowing the audience to become immersed in all he does and believes. He looks the part, talks the talk, and walks the walk. The film was produced by many members of the Marley Family, and they’ve found the perfect person to make Bob live again on the big screen. Nearly as impressive is Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley, Bob’s wife and fellow singer. She’s clearly a woman who, like Bob, wants what’s best for her family, and she’s the one person not afraid to stand up to her often belligerent husband. The scenes these two get together are quite good and speak for themselves.

ONE LOVE is equally good from a production standpoint. Whether we’re seeing the streets of a war-torn Jamaica or late 70s England when punk rockers roamed the streets, it’s a great trip back in time to a bygone era. And of course, the music of Mr. Marley is as timeless as ever, used well throughout the film. I have a feeling the movie will rekindle an interest in Marley’s music, as well as introduce it to a whole new generation of listeners, and what greater praise if there than that?

Unfortunately, a few issues do keep ONE LOVE from greatness. The biggest issue with the film is that it only covers a brief era of Bob Marley’s life, in the late 1970s. Small flashbacks are interspaced throughout, but they don’t serve their purpose as well as the filmmakers intended. At the beginning of the film, we’re given walls of text explaining how Bob Marley beat the odds and became Jamaica’s biggest star. But how did he? It’s a bit of a red flag that the film starts with these walls of text, not delving deeper into Marley’s earlier life. A more comprehensive film with a longer running time would’ve been appreciated. Likewise, many side characters and subplots never quite get the emphasis or fleshing out they deserve, not the least of which being Marley’s cancer diagnosis.

ONE LOVE does suffer in that it looks at too narrow a period in the fame singer’s life rather than his whole life, though it’s saved by a career-defining performance from Kingsley Ben-Adir and top-notch production quality. It’s not quite the Bob Marley biopic I’d hoped for, but the good still outweighs the bad, and it’s worth at least a modest recommendation.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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