By
December 24, 2001 12:00 PM

Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jamie Foxx, Jon Voight, Nona Gaye

The extended opening sequence of Ali cuts feverishly among scenes, including boxer Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) pounding on the speed bag as he trains in Miami for his first title fight in 1964; women at a nightclub going crazy for sexy crooner Sam Cooke; Ali as a boy in Louisville, Ky.; and Malcolm X preaching at a mosque. This beginning is so exhilarating and sets up such high expectations, it’s a disappointment when much of the rest of director Michael Mann’s biopic fails to live up to its promise. Ali tracks the champ from ’64 to ’74, during which time he converted to Islam and had his title lifted after refusing the Vietnam War draft. What’s missing is a point of view. Smith is impressive, but at the end of Ali’s 2 hours 34 minutes, we know a lot about Ali but have even more questions. (R)

Bottom Line: Misses scoring a knockout

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