There’s one genuinely terrific scene in Race: American track star Jesse Owens (Stephan James) entering the stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, taking in the enormity of the moment, including the crowd saluting Adoph Hitler. It’s the kind of moment you can get when a biographical drama isn’t just about packing in information, as this one too often seems to be. From Owens’ arrival at Ohio State University to run track for embattled coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), the story also addresses his relationship with his eventual wife (Shanice Banton), as well as the behind-the-scenes debates as America’s Amateur Athletic Union considers boycotting the Berlin Games over German racial policies. There’s plenty of interesting historical detail in those moments, and the context is certainly important in setting the stage for the symbolic significance of Owens’ success. But the result is a frustrating and fragmented narrative that never really allows Owens himself to take center stage. While it may have been an extraordinary time in which this one man pulled off his extraordinary achievements, a movie starts to lose its impact when it begins to feel that it’s more about the time than about the man.
Director: Stephen Hopkins
Producer: Jean-Charles Levy, Luc Dayan, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Dominique Séguin, Stephen Hopkins, Kate Garwood, Karsten Brünig, Nicolas Manuel, Patrick Teng, Paul Teng, Jonathan Bronfman, David Garrett, Sarah MacDonald, Al Munteanu, Mark Slone and Thierry Potok
Cast: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Eli Goree, Shanice Banton, Carice van Houten, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, Chantel Riley, David Kross, Jonathan Higgins, Barnaby Metschurat, Jeremy Ferdman and Giacomo Gianniotti