Race tries to present itself as a spiritual companion to Creed, but ultimately feels more like The Help: a movie about race which feels deathly afraid of its own subject matter. Stephan James acquits himself admirably in the role of Jesse Owens, but too often he feels like a side note in his own story.
Instead, we see Jeremy Irons thunder in righteous indignation at the most ridiculously evil Joseph Goebbels ever put to film, while Jason Sudeikis checks off every cliché in the book as Owens’ gruff, washed-up former champion with a drinking problem and a heart of gold.
Jesse Owens’ story is ripe for Hollywood adaptation, but Race is a pretty pedestrian biopic. Stephen Hopkins has polished it so vigorously that the sharp edges have been sanded away.
CAST: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, William Hurt, Jeremy Irons, Carice Van Houten
DIRECTOR: Stephen Hopkins
WRITERS: Joe Shrapnel, Ana Waterhouse
SYNOPSIS: Jesse Owens’ quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history thrusts him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.