Bob Marley: One Love

12A 4K UHD, Blu-ray, DVD

Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley died in Florida in 1981 – he was only 36.

A biography of his life somehow feels long overdue, and it comes from American director Reinaldo Marcus Green, with only his fourth feature and follow-up to his 2021 film King Richard.

boom reviews Bob Marley: One Love
Then he said he was a musician going by the name Ed Sheeran and we all laughed.

1976, and Bob Marley (Kingsley Ben-Adir) is preparing for a huge gig in his home country of Jamaica. But two days before it two gunmen find their way onto his property, shooting Bob, his wife Rita (Lashana Lynch) and his manager Don (Anthony Welsh). Luckily there were no fatalities, but it makes Bob re-evaluate the safety of himself and his family amidst ever-growing political unrest.

This sees his wife and Children go off to the States, while Bob and the rest of the band head off to London. It’s there that he begins writing and recording his next album, as well as where love for him and his music grows.

But as his star rises, it creates tensions, and the experience of recording isn’t the chilled, relaxed atmosphere hoped for.

boom reviews Bob Marley: One Love
I'm just a little tea pot, and here is my spout.

This biography sounds an easy enough proposition, and yet four writers get a screenplay credit for it, including the esteemed Terence Winter, who has written for such shows as The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire. This may explain the disjointed nature of the film, clearly lacking cohesion.

It dismisses the usual format of the bio, and chooses to mainly focus on the last few years of the seventies. And that’s fine, until it changes its mind, and starts to include relatively bland flashbacks to a young Bob Marley. The story is now stop and start, struggling to find a gear worth sticking in, making for a less than smooth experience.

Luckily Ben-Adir is utterly mesmerising as Marley, in a career-defining role, oozing as he does the legend’s presence. And the best scenes are, besides those of him on stage singing his classics, the ones he shares with his on-screen wife Lynch, with their relationship the most satisfying element of the film.

Of course the music is a big draw, but there’s no getting away from the fact the story could have done with some work, which may have helped by having one or two writers less involved.

Still that aside, there’s a lot of love for Ben –Adir, who brings Marley to life, helping to portray that legendary status.

we give this three out of five