Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Gavin Fitzgerald.
Not to be confused with the 2009 biopic of rapper Notorious B I G, this documentary charts the rise from obscurity and poverty to wealth and success of mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor.
Director Gavin Fitzgerald was granted lots of intimate access to McGregor over the four years of filming. We first meet him when he is living in his mother’s house in rural Ireland, broke but full of ambition. He regularly trains in a run-down gym in Dublin. But he is determined to follow his dream, and after a few bouts he gets signed to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) circuit. We follow his quick rise to the top of this world and his trajectory, which ends with his much-publicised fight against world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather.
But this is pretty much a puff piece and hagiography that plays up McGregor’s enormous ego. He flaunts his success and wealth and fame, and he comes across as a largely unlikeable person – egotistical, arrogant, full of self-belief and hubris. We see plenty of evidence of his public persona and bravado and his larger than life personality, but we also get a glimpse of the vulnerability behind the facade in some more private moments, especially those he shares with his loyal girlfriend Dee Devlin.
Fitzgerald spent four years following McGregor from Ireland to the glitz and neon-lit glamour of Las Vegas and there was a wealth of material to draw upon. Editor Andrew Hearne, a veteran of documentary films who worked on Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story, etc, has fashioned together a slick package. There is plenty of brutal and bloody fighting footage of McGregor in the octagon. And Hugh Drumm’s electronic score is more of a distraction that adds little to the material.
However, there is a lot of background information and detail that is missing that would have provided more insight and context and given us a glimpse into his ambition and the influences that shaped him. Most of the interviews are not that revealing. There is also a brief appearance from none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a fan and pops by for a quick chat with McGregor following a win, but this is pretty superficial stuff.
Notorious is purely one for the fans. As McGregor is one of the executive producers of this documentary we know that this is going to serve up a pretty superficial look at his life. There is nothing controversial here and we learn little about McGregor himself.