It was pretty neat when Jesse Owens went over to Berlin in 1936 and essentially tossed up a gold medal-laced middle finger right at Hitler, so I’m down to watch a dramatic re-telling of the events. Though, I will say the trailers for the film haven’t made me feel overly confident about what I might receive in exchange for my time.
Race is a an alright film that could have been great. There isn’t anything about it that’s glaringly wrong, but it’s so paint-by-numbers that it just isn’t anywhere near as dramatic or exciting as it could have been. Jesse goes to college, Jesse (played well by Stephan James) gets declared a natural by his “tough” coach (played by a hit or miss Jason Sudeikis), Jesse wins some races and sets some records, Jesse cheats on his girlfriend but then wins her back, Jesse ponders – mostly off-screen – about not going to the Olympics, Jesse goes to the Olympics, Jesse wins and makes everyone proud. That’s about it. As I always say with movies based on true events (and this particularly goes for real life stories that everyone knows), there has to be more to it than what any of us can simply skim on Wikipedia. This is, unfortunately, exactly how Race is constructed – it’s just a big summary with no personality at all. That’s too bad, as it really is based on the type of story that deserves to be on the big screen.
If you’d rather not spend 10 minutes reading about Jesse Owens, then I guess an okay alternative would be the 134 minutes-long Race. See it if you want.
One Last Thought:
Did it really need to be titled Race? That’s just so heavy handed and eye roll-worthy. Why not call it 733? Or Jesse? Or J to the O? Maybe Run Jesse Run? Perhaps Screw You, Nazis! would have been nice? Honestly, anything but the not-as-clever-as-that-one-executive-thought-it-was Race would have been great – it just cheapens the whole film.