By Mandela Wells
Jesse Owens story is an amazing one. The fastest black man on earth going up against not only racism in his country but the Nazi regime who hated Jews but weren’t fond of blacks either. Owens adversity was momentous but he pulled through and embarrassed the Nazi’s by winning 3 gold medals. The movie Race tried to execute in telling Owens story but ultimately it didn’t come across the right way on screen and it resulted in a bit of disappointing film.
The movie begins by showing Owens (Stephan James) as he prepares to go to college at Ohio state to run track. Dealing with the expected racism that went on during his time in the 1930’s. Owens catches the attention of coach and former track athlete Larry Synder. Synder takes Owens under his wing and molds him into a focused athlete who already had uncanny running skills. When Jesse is presented the opportunity to go to the Olympics, he at first hesitates due to the pressure but ultimately goes and well, you know how the story turned out. The movie also looks into the kind of man Owens was outside of the track field as well as relationship with Larry Synder a white man who saw something in this young black man.
So this movie wasn’t terrible but it was not great either. The script just didn’t bring out a real thrilling Jesse Owens biopic like I hoped it would cinematically. I am looking forward to seeing another attempt at capturing this story by a director. Hell maybe if the movie was solely on the Berlin games and he was the main character might have been even better who knows
Acting wise Jason Sudekis and Stephan James did a good job. This was fine role for Sudekis. He plays a man that was pretty straight forward. he wanted to win and win badly, he helped make these boys hungry and work hard and not be distracted. Sudekis actually turned out to be a great coach here. Stephan James was pretty good as Owens, not surprised seeing how well he captured John Lewis in “Selma.” James portrayed Owens as a humble, mild mannered man who always kept it together even though deep inside the pressure was mounting on him. James really captured him well and got into amazing shape to play him.
Jeremy Irons and Carice Van Houten were also really good here. I haven’t seen much of Irons work but from what I have seen he is hell of an actor.
The directing was ok however I did like the utilization of some decent camera work during the scenes at the Olympics. By the way those Olympic scenes were the only reeeeal solid scenes in the film. Good transitions with the editing and the lighting was interesting. You got a nice contrast of the grimy streets of Cleveland at the time with a great brightness with the games in the Olympics as well as Ohio state. I found that highly impressive and it really helped show Jesse’s move into big time the bright lights so to speak.
So the movie had its good moments but mainly some not so great ones. Again I hope another Jesse Owens movie comes out and someone tackles it a little differently.
Image by Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_%282016_film%29)