Even as a promotional piece, Manny is too thin a nonfiction portrait of Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest boxers of the modern era and the only one in history to win titles in eight different weight classes.
Narrated by Liam Neeson, directors Leon Gast and Ryan Moore’s film is structured more or less chronologically, albeit without any time markers to indicate when a given fight or event has taken place, which gives the material an overarching haziness.
Worse, the film merely mentions many topics seemingly ripe for deeper exploration: the clash between Manny’s devout Christianity and his gambling and womanizing ways; his promoter Bob Arum’s purported role in blocking a bout against Floyd Mayweather; his brief acting career. What’s offered is PR-approved footage of Manny’s in-ring exploits, training sessions, and eventual work as a politician in his native Philippines, all embellished by over-the-top soundbites from talking heads eager to invoke Muhammad Ali and God in their praise.
Throughout, the complexities of the charismatic fighter’s life are only cursorily referenced so that the celebratory tone may not be marred, with Manny ultimately content to treat its subject with kid gloves.