Director: Stephen Hopkins
Starring: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Iron, William Hurt
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Stephan James portrays Jesse Owens as accurately as one could imagine. Jason Sudeikis, who plays Owens’ coach Larry Snyder, also compliments James in a supporting role that doesn’t threaten to overshadow the main character. Surprisingly, Jeremy Irons’ character almost stole the lead supporting character role with his performance as Avery Brundage.
The film’s biggest highlight is the context it provides to the historical events of the Berlin Olympic games. It portrays the Nazi regime as the overly blatant villains throughout the film. Beyond that the movie consistently reminds you of the racial tensions of the 1930’s and how it transcended to even beyond the United States.
The movie seemed very simple and basic. There weren’t any real highs or lows that will move you in any type of way. We sort of already know the ending with Owens’ famous accomplishment; however the movie didn’t quite build up the momentum or suspense that we would normally get in a sports bio-film.
Race was overall a heartwarming film with the harsh reminder that our country, or the world, is still not as far removed from racial division as many would imagine. Rather than highlighting how great of an athlete Jesse Owens was, I think this film served a far greater purpose in demonstrating the historical context that many people probably were unaware of surrounding the Berlin Olympics. The irony of it all is that Owens’ accomplishments were neglected and not formally recognized for over three decades; and I suspect that this film will also be neglected and forgotten in a similar sense. This wasn’t as good as other African American bio pics like 42 (Jackie Robinson story) or Ray (Ray Charles).
I suppose this is the “Black History Movie-of-the-Month” so it’s worth watching in the least. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It’s an okay movie at the end of the day. Get your discounted matinee tickets or watch it when it becomes available online.