Conor McGregor: Notorious review

Notorious is slightly superficial yet satisfying fly-on-the-wall examination of the enigma that is UFC superstar Conor McGregor.

The film documents each stage of the loud-mouthed Irishman's steep rise to global sporting stardom, starting in the grimy backstreet gyms of Dublin and ending with his rematch against Nate Diaz under the sport's brightest lights.

The access provided is undoubtedly unparalleled and for MMA fiends it makes for tantalising viewing. It provides a fascinating level of insight into the inner-workings of the fighter, his close-knit team and the unique understanding which exists between the two.

"I'm the f**cking future," proclaims a grainy VHS-version of McGregor in an eerily prophetic manner after sending his amateur opponent to the mat during the opening few minutes.

He oozes confidence and magnetism and although it's often seen as an act for combat sports fighters, it becomes very clear, very quickly that in this case, it's completely genuine.

The way McGregor laughs off his summons from the Irish debt bureau while living in a cramped flat with his mother. The moment that he casually predicts the exact method of his KO finish of Jose Aldo while sprawled on the couch in his Vegas mansion. The darkness of the locker-room after his loss to Diaz. THAT sparring session with Paulie Malginaggi prior to the Mayweather fight. There is plenty here for fans to feast on.

Conor McGregor at the world premiere of his documentary Notorious in Dublin.
Conor McGregor at the film's world premiere in Dublin Photo credit: Getty

One of the highlights is the peek behind the curtain at his relationship with his Dee Devlin. She's been a constant at his side throughout his evolution into a multi-million dollar property, but has always been a bit of a mystery.

To see the special bond the two share and her utmost belief in McGregor, and the way that confidence empowers him, is quite the treat.

However, what the film lacks is a healthy dose of objectivity. It often comes across as a slickly produced promotional tool for McGregor and fails to really explore what makes him tick, or reveal a bit more about the man behind the fighter; his weaknesses, his fears, or the complexities of his character.

The 29-year-old's gift of the gab has conjured comparisons to the godfather of trash-talk, Muhammad Ali, and it's the very tool that has made his appeal so transcendent. Notorious avoids delving deeper into where that ability was born and glosses over many of his finer moments on the microphone.

For the McGregor and UFC diehards out there, this film is a must. But even for viewers without any interest in sport, this is a universal tale of the determination and sacrifice needed to reach the pinnacle of a profession that will resonate with almost everyone.

Four stars.

* Notorious opens in New Zealand cinemas today and will run for one week only.