King Richard (2022) Review
THE GAME of tennis is a well-paced one; matches lasting upwards of 4 hours as the opposing sides continually bite at the bit to gain the upper hand and achieve ultimate victory. Any good movie film should be treated the same, but ironically, this tennis bio-pic fails to replicate the sport's constant, engaging pace.
King Richard tells the true story of Richard Williams (Will Smith), father of legendary tennis players, Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) Williams, and how his teachings moulded his daughters into the all-time greats they would become. The road to it's finale may be riddled with predictability; a crutch of any modern bio-pic, but King Richard paces itself in such a way where it doesn't really matter how the film ends as majority of audiences who went to see the film more than likely already know the end result, and are only in attendance the witness the story of the man behind the sister's respective successes, circling back to the movie's major problem - pacing.
Despite a 2 and a half hour runtime, director Reinaldo Marcus Green feels the need to race through the prologue of King Richard, leaving minimal time for Richard's more ominous sides to be explored, dampening a significant chunk of enjoyment to be had. For a movie so set on advertising itself as the untold story of Richard Williams and "a plan for greatness", it finds itself extremely confused as to when it wants to actually focus on the main character. This wouldn't normally be a problem for a typical sports bio-pic, but if you want to show audiences the early careers of Venus and Serena, then have the movie be about Venus and Serena; necessary elements like Richard and Rick Macci (Jon Bernthal) can absolutely be included if they're so integral to the story, but if you want the movie to be about the sports sisters, then don't lie; market it as a film about the Williams sisters. Lying to a movie-goer may not hurt the production quality of your film, but it sure can impact their enjoyment of it.
There are still plenty of enjoyable aspects about this movie. If you're looking for a film with an abundance of heart, look no further; King Richard makes tremendous use of its emotional backstory as Will Smith delivers one of the greatest performances of his illustrious career, fully-immersing himself in the role of Richard Williams. Smith seamlessly captures the essence of Richard by delivering heart warming dialogues about the struggles he went through and how he won't allow his past troubles to befall his daughters. Sidney and Singleton also do decent jobs portraying Venus and Serena, respectively, and although they often feel like actors reading pieces of paper, both deliver passable performances despite their early careers and this movie will surely open more doors for each actress.
Should King Richard be nominated for Best Picture? Probably not. Am I upset that it is? Far from it. The film feels incredibly disjointed and even tiresome in some places, but much of its appeal comes from the actor's abilities to immerse themselves in the roles of well-decorated athletes. Will Smith steals the show with a standout performance in a career full of them, and Sidney and Singleton do well playing each Williams sister by exuding genuine emotion and chemistry alongside Smith, but sadly, the film is brought down by monotonous pacing and a character personification so unsure of itself to the point where King Richard doesn't know whether it's a Richard Williams or Venus/Serena Williams story, leading to a movie that serves up nothing but untapped potential.