PG Score: 8/10
King Richard was released in theaters on 11/19/21 and is available for streaming on HBO Max
Will Smith shines in his best performance in years.
King Richard stars Smith (I am Legend, Enemy of the State) as Richard Williams, father of two of the greatest tennis players to ever play the game, Venus and Serena. Growing up in Compton, CA with limited access to proper coaching and the dangers of local courts in a city ripe with crime, The Williams family is pulled together led by Richard and his wife Brandi (Aunjanue Ellis) to push not only Venus (Saniyya Sidney) and Serena (Demi Singleton) but their other siblings to greatness as well.
Smith and Bernthal
Smith as Williams captures the nuances of the man as he battles his own ego and fear against his expectations for his daughters. Coming up with a plan before the girls could even walk, it is amazing to watch it unfold as he pushes them rain or shine, day after day until he is able to find a coach to take them on.
While not their first coach in the film, Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, The Walking Dead) as Coach Rick Macci gives a great performance going against the grain of his typical tough guy act. The introduction of Macci, who also trained tennis great Jennifer Capriati, gave the Williams family a chance for a better life as they moved to Florida to continue with their training and chasing their dreams. The only thing that could hold the girls back is the same thing pushing them forward: their father.
Pulling his girls from juniors, he didn't want his daughters playing in any tournaments in fear that they would burn out, even though the whole time he was promoting them nonstop and doing interview after interview. This caused the biggest disruption in his 'Plan' as well as disagreements with Coach Macci and his wife. After two years of just training, it was Venus herself who finally convinced Richard to let her play and compete in a tournament where she would end up facing the number one ranked player in the world.
Director Reinaldo Marcus Green (Joe Bell) does a great job of blending the action and the sweeter moments of the film. He gives the two young stars of the film a chance to stand out and both shine bright as tennis stars and loving sisters. The film is set mostly in the early 1990’s and the film manages to capture that essence with its camera work and ability to capture its setting.
An Excellent Sports Drama
King Richard is by far the best tennis film I have ever seen. Great action and drama that gives us an inside look at two future Hall of Famers. Strong principles, support of family and solid performances lead to one of the year's best films and a must-see.