Movie Review: RACE
STAR RATING (out of 5): ***
RACE is the latest in the period sports bio-pic genre. This one adapts the story of Jesse Owens, a track and field star who won 4 gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. So, will Race have you racing for your local theater to go watch the film? Well…
The cast is talented and delivers solid performances from the likes of lead star Stephan James and Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis plays Owen’s coach at Ohio State University. Their relationship stands out in all these recent sports films. Their conflicting ideologies early on make for good drama, and their growing friendship over time is likable. The rest of the cast does good work and keeps you interested in the plot. The cinematography and production design is remarkably pretty. The film also does a great job building intensity during the track races, even if they only last 10 seconds.
There are several subplots in this film, and instead of it all fitting together nicely and feeling balanced, they come across jumbled. It makes the film hard to follow, as you struggle trying to follow the plot in its overlong runtime. There’s this weird shift in tone whenever we follow the Nazi subplot. There’s a strange antagonistic character who has almost no effect on anything, who’s apparently aiming for world domination as he does Nazi stuff. It’s stereotypical and his character is nowhere near intimidating. Though the Nazi plot did build some tension, it could’ve been a bit more realistic and not feel so shoehorned into the film.
The Olympic Games sequence. It benefits the character arcs, keeps the plot organized, and sets up good tension.
All the Nazi scenes.
Race is overall an enjoyable film with a solid cast. It doesn’t master its source material, and has several problems, but keeps you entertained.
Review by SAM SILBER