Race (2016) Movie Review

Race is the biopic of Olympic athlete Jesse Owens. The film follows Owens (Stephan James) as he tackles adversity in 1930s America and Germany. It also explores the relationship between Owens and his down-and-out coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis).


What it boils down to is that this film is a by-the-book biopic in the same vein as movies like 2013’s 42. The characters all fill archetypal roles, and the narrative reflects a basic, done-to-death structure.

The release date of Race shows apprehension from distributors that this may be a biopic without legs  (pun not intended). This and the convention of the genre are both working against this film from moment one. However, Race is not a terrible movie.

Sudeikis brings his known comedic charisma to a more dramatic role here, and it translates well, for the most part. He does lose his consistency in moments where his character is most aggressive or emotional.

Stephan James does well front and center as Owens. The young actor holds attention from scene to scene, but, like Sudeikis, he loses some power in the more emotional moments of the film.

The addition of Riefenstahl filming her documentary Olympia is a pleasant surprise, but her presence at the center of the game’s politics is dubious. Her character is also sympathized perhaps more than the reality of the era merits.

As paint by numbers as the narrative structure is, the sports montages and moments of athletic intrigue are exciting enough to elevate the film beyond a simple re-tread.

Overall, Race is an entertaining, albeit conventional, sports biopic. If you dig past all that has been done before, you get noteworthy acting, exciting scenes of athleticism, and a good commentary on film history.


Race can be found to buy on Amazon Video here.


As always, thanks for reading!

Have you seen Race? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!

—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

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