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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Movie Review - Race

Race (2016)
Starring Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, Carice van Houten, Eli Goree, Shanice Banton, David Kross, Barnaby Metschurat, and William Hurt
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
***This film is currently streaming via HBO Now/Go***

Better than I expected, Race is an extremely typical biographical retelling of the life of Jesse Owens, 1930s Olympic racing star, anchored by a fine performance by Stephan James as Owens.  While Owens certainly faced racism in the United States as he attended college in the mid-1930s, this film places most of its emphasis on the 1936 Olympics which took place in Germany just as Hitler was gaining power.  Facing anger from the African American community on the homefront for agreeing to compete in the games taking place in a decidedly racist country, Owens stands up to the Nazi regime by competing and succeeding at the Olympic games.  Admittedly, I wasn't too familiar with this piece of history and I found the story quite compelling.

The aforementioned James -- with whom I'm unfamiliar -- nicely conveys Owens' internal conflict about whether his competing in the Olympics is simply foolish self-centered pride or a ballsy attempt at giving a giant middle finger to the Nazi way of life.  As Owens' college coach Larry Snyder, Jason Sudeikis' role provides a change of pace for the actor known for his comedic chops.  Nevertheless, the film works because the story is so interesting.  Perhaps those familiar with the tale will find the rather rote, by-the-book way director Stephen Hopkins runs things a bit bland, but Owens' courageous life reeled me in and made me forget a little bit that the flick itself was just another biopic -- one of my least favorite genres.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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