Bob Marley is a household name, recognized by people of all ages, yet beyond a few of his hit songs, the details of his life remain unknown to many. With Hollywood currently in a biographical musical renaissance, standing out in this crowded field is challenging. Does “Bob Marley: One Love” manage to break free from the usual clichés? Unfortunately, it falls short. However, it provides some enjoyable scenes. 

The film opens with Bob’s decision to organize a free concert aimed at easing the discord in Jamaica, a nation fraught with tension. Despite caution from his inner circle, he refuses to cancel. However, an assassination attempt shifts his focus. Bob then goes to London to begin work on what would ultimately emerge as his most celebrated album, Exodus. Exposition-wise, this felt like a great beginning. It gives the audience a good introduction to the current landscape of Jamacia, introduces most of the important characters, and sets up the story all in about 25 minutes. 

However, the narrative begins to decline after this. The London segments, predominantly focused on Bob’s music production process, lose focus without significantly advancing the plot. A considerable portion of the film, about thirty minutes, is dedicated to depicting his routine, with little variation. While the insights into the origins of each song were fun, the duration spent on these aspects felt excessive. Although the soundtrack is enjoyable, the storyline suffers from a lack of momentum. This narrative pacing issue culminates in a rushed conclusion, undermining what is arguably the movie’s most interesting segment. The use of title cards to encapsulate Bob’s final achievements feels like a missed opportunity to flesh out a more satisfying ending. Consequently, the audience is left wanting more. 

The film truly shines during the moments featuring its lead characters, portrayed by Kingsley Ben-Adir as Bob Marley and Lashana Lynch as Rita Marley. Their shared scenes showcased a broad spectrum of their acting talents and provided the audience with essential insights into their characters. Kingsley Ben-Adir delivers a remarkable portrayal of Bob Marley’s iconic performance style. Even though the songs are voiced over, his embodiment of Marley’s stage presence, complete with energetic dancing and emotional vocals made for an enjoyable time. 

Although the soundtrack provides a great listen, “Bob Marley: One Love” succumbs to the familiar downfalls of the musical biopic genre, allocating screen time to the process of music creation at the expense of character development. Despite its shortcomings, the film remains a fun viewing experience. Its reliance on well-worn tropes means it lacks the qualities needed to leave a lasting impression on the audience.