Notorious: Conor Mcgregor
Conor McGregor, Dee Devlin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jose Aldo, Nate Diaz, Dana White
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Though it doesn’t dig deep, Notorious: Conor McGregor is exciting, energetic and occasionally revealing…
In Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set crime thriller, The Departed, Matt Damon’s undercover mobster sneers, “Freud said that the Irish are impervious to psychoanalysis.” The quote has never been properly attributed to the legendary founder of psychiatry, but it may very well have informed director, Gavin Fitzgerald, when it came to his construction of Notorious: Conor McGregor, a doco about the Emerald Isle’s all-conquering UFC hardman.
Eschewing any form of real emotional enquiry, and demonstrating no temptation to scratch away to get at what may be underneath, Fitzgerald instead happily skates on the surface of this rags-to-riches story. Considering that McGregor himself is a producer on the film, that’s no real surprise, but it nevertheless would have been bracing to get inside the head of this extraordinarily charismatic man. McGregor is so charismatic, in fact, and his story is so sports-movie-quintessential, however, that the lack of depth in Notorious: Conor McGregor only plays out as a minor flaw.
The access to the fighter afforded Fitzgerald is staggering, with the filmmaker right there next to McGregor on an amazing four-year journey. With the camera right up in his face, you see McGregor putting his body through the wringer in the gym, sweating and grimacing his way through major injuries, conferring with his horde of trainers and managers, and whispering sweet nothings to his girlfriend. It’s revealing and intimate, and McGregor’s sense of commitment and desire to win is palpable.
Tightly paced and stylishly edited, the doco tracks McGregor’s hardscrabble beginnings in Ireland through to his triumphs in The Octagon, and follows his dangerous move from the featherweight division into the lightweight division. The film’s essential story arcs are built around McGregor’s preparation and battles with UFC titans, Jose Aldo and Nate Diaz, and they play out like the best kind of fictional sports movie, pumped with bravado, brutality, and brusque machismo. McGregor’s now famous one-bout switch to boxing against Floyd Mayweather, meanwhile, plays out as a (hopefully) get-ready-for-the-sequel epilogue.
In the middle of it all is the no-bullshit Conor McGregor, pulling no punches in his verbal decimation of his opponents, but also always looking slightly astounded at the success that he has achieved (particularly so when going all fan-boy while meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger). Loving money like only someone who has come from nothing can love it, and luxuriating in the excess of it all in his new home in Las Vegas, McGregor is engagingly straightforward. To him, his story is a simple one. “I have the greatest job in the world,” McGregor once said. “I get paid loads of cash for beating the crap out of people. And I’m very good at it.” There is undoubtedly a lot more to the soulful McGregor than that (after losing a fight, he tellingly apologises to all those around him, while making no excuses for his failures), but until a more probing, fully rounded documentary comes along, the exciting, energetic and occasionally revealing Notorious: Conor McGregor will do just fine.