Race (2016) Review

Published by: Anthony Wallace


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It’s the dream of Jesse Owens to be the best runner in the world. As the 1936 Olympics is set to take place in Germany, Owens faces adversity when discrimination at home and politics overseas begins to build. With the help of Ohio Coach Larry Snyder, Owens proves to himself and his family that nothing will stand in his way from pivoting to greatness. The film is directed by Stephen Hopkins and stars Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, and Jeremy Irons.

One of the great things we see in ‘Race‘ is the dual narratives about the discrimination at home between whites and blacks; while overseas it’s the Hitler regime readying to host the Olympics. The director, Stephen Hopkins, did an amazing job telling a story about the politics of race. Actor Stephan James who plays Jesse Owens was likable and you could sense the weight of politics on his shoulders when he is forced to make a decision to take part in the Olympics. Not taking its time to recognize how good of an athlete Owens is, much of the movie is centered on the Hitler Regime. You sense the animosity building as Germany prepares to host the games while holding hostility towards Jews and those of color participating in the event.

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Another good performance we get is from Jason Sudeikis as we get a sincere coach who believes deeply in Jesse Owens. Even when it looked like Coach Snyder couldn’t coach Owens in Germany, he did everything in his power to encourage Jesse in pursuing greatness. What I would’ve liked to have seen more of is Jesse having more of a challenge as he practiced under Coach Snyder. Right off the bat we are introduced to a talented athlete who had little to improve on. It’s great to see Jesse succeed but I’m sure in his life there were moments that tested him. However, on the flip side we see Jesse face the celebrity pressure when he puts his marriage at risk while on the road. But isn’t that we always see in these types of movies? No surprise there.

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Looking at how the movie was made, Hopkins did an amazing job with the editing and flow of the story. The attention to detail of what it was like for the U.S. Olympic Committee to vote to participate in Germany with contingencies in place. This is where Jeremy Irons comes in as Avery Brundage who’s behind the scenes as he butts heads with the Fuhrer’s hired gun. And this is where race comes into play with the politics of discrimination. There were moments when the weight of judgment were on the shoulders of Jesse that he almost fell under the pressure. Ultimately, Jesse would win four gold medals in the Olympics before returning home. A telling moment came when it turns out that the U.S. government didn’t recognize Jesse Owens for his successes until 1960; 25 years of unrecognized notoriety that is now being told.

A good story with some much valued history to appreciate, ‘Race‘ will win audiences with a compelling story. The movie may be overlooked due to its competitors; however, those who do catch the film will be impressed by Stephen Hopkins’ efforts and the performances by Jason Sudeikis and Stephan James.

Rating: 7/10

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What do you guys think? Are you planning to watch ‘Race‘? Comment below and share your thoughts. Click the like button if you enjoyed reading this post and follow me to get my take on newly released films.

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