The story of Conor McGregor is the what-if scenario of when the drunken clichéd yahoo at the Dublin Tavern, who knows how to throw-down in the alley after a few pints, becomes a global mega-superstar of Ultimate Fighting. The larrikin who’s as quick with verbal jabs as he is a left, right, uppercut – Notorious gives us the method behind the madness.
From the first scene, where Conor saunters out in his slick, tailored suit and gets in his Rolls Royce on the way to a fight, I was hit with two feelings – the first being I hate this guy, and the second immediately following, I wish I was him. Then, when the film intercuts with home footage of his early days, we see visceral fight footage, bloodied and in slow motion in the Octagon of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and I start to think yeah, nah he can have it.
The beginnings of the self-proclaimed chimp that turned into a gorilla delivers a detailed and interesting delve into the psyche and motivations of a scrap fighter who has just quit his job to pursue his dream in the UFC. With cameras rolling you almost forget it’s a documentary, like there was a premonition this guy would be a star and redefine the sport. We basically see it all, with vision as fascinating as the man himself. It’s legit too, as he’s about 80% less tattooed, but equally as smug as now.
A born showman but initially grounded in reality, McGregor is facing the same old issues anyone does; bills, relationships and injuries. We see cool snapshots of his home life, his girlfriend, and McGregor does grow on you, his smile and presence is contagious. Covering his first fight in 2007, and his first in the UFC in 2013, McGregor has learnt to improvise, adapt and overcome the odds, especially after being dealt a reality check in losing to Nate Diaz.
His obsession and determination shines through, inspiring anyone in their pursuits to have the same grit and tenacity as McGregor does, and maybe they’ll succeed as he did. Though gym and training almost 7 days a week would be taxing on most, it is just as entertaining to watch him make the transformation into a modern sports legend, and harnessing that manic energy is captivating to watch.
Structurally the movie starts off strong, and then peters out into familiar territory, a few fight montages and not really exploring the emotional side of it; there are no staged interviews so the style is more veritè, and by the end it feels like an episode of a TV series over a documentary – but the film is still enthralling and interesting, even if you hate mixed martial arts.
You might need subtitles too if you’re not constantly paying attention, the accent is heavy. The movie is out now – worth a look, especially if you have superhero film fatigue. Check out a real-life meta-human.