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 ... Read allJesse 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.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.
Both Owens and his story, meaning his personal life, how he came to be what he became, the obstacles he had to overcome and what it was like at the time, were/are much more interesting than shown in 'Race' and both deserved better. Am not saying that 'Race' is a bad film, actually thought that it was well intended and did have its fair share of good qualities. It just could have done far more with its subject, being too conventional and it should have been more focused.
'Race' looks great, the period detail is beautifully and evocatively recreated and the big races (which do thrill) and the first entrance into the Olympic stadium were strikingly and cleverly shot without being too showy so it doesn't become overblown. The CGI wasn't cheap and didn't jar, didn't even think it was that obvious but maybe that's just me. Rachel Portman's music score is unmistakably beautifully orchestrated, have always found Portman's compositional style distinctive and lovely to listen to, and a mix of subdued and with the right amount of intensity.
The film is at its best in the relationship between Owens and Luz, Luz's admiration for Owens is never less than convincing, and in the entertaining interaction between Owens and Snyder. Actually also did like everything with Avery Brundage, the film does downplay what he was really like but his scenes did intrigue me and still found Brundage interesting. It also helps that the cast is a strong one. Stephan James does a great job as Owens, very commanding throughout and with much fire and emotion, and Jason Sudeikis surprisingly excels in a departure role for him. David Kross is admirable too and Carice Van Houten has fun as Liefenstahl, the best supporting turn though comes from Jeremy Irons, even when Brundage is written in a downplayed way Irons is still quite sinister at the same time.
Did admire 'Race's' good intentions and also that it had a goal of making Owens and his story better known to younger generations.
While saying that the cast was solid, there was an exception to me and that was Barnaby Metschurat, his Goebbels being too much of a caricature to bring any kind of chills. 'Race' does try to cover far too much with too many subplots, even in its pretty long running time too much of the film felt under-explored and somewhat bloated. The same problems apply with the script. Pacing is an issue too, with the film taking too long to get going and then becoming too rushed towards the end.
For all Van Houten's efforts, personally didn't see any point to the Liefenstahl scenes when there is no real reason given for why they or she were there. They just felt like padding and should have featured less. Had more of a problem though with the Owens and Ruth storyline though, that was very underwritten and badly slowed the film down. It is the portrayal of the racism where 'Race' especially plays it too safe, it was much worse at the time than what is shown and instead of the "trying hard not to offend" approach there really should have been much more intensity and sinister edge to it. Got very little out of the Waldorf scene and that is not a good sign.
Owens himself also felt underdeveloped, there was not near enough of what he was like as a person with there being more prominence on his importance and why. As well of course too much of the other subplots which distracted too much.
All in all, not a bad film but could have been more. 5/10
- Aug 2, 2019