The Human Race


Race Cover

Initial Release: February 19th, 2016

 Director: Stephen Hopkins

 Actors: Stephan James, Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt

 Musical Composition: Rachel Portman

Rating: PG-13

 Genre: Drama/Sport









Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, J.C, or Jesse Owens (Stephan James), ran. Lots. Race tells the story of an underdog with the world against him, at home and abroad, as he fights against the racial status quo in more ways than one. From his humble home and running on the streets, to Ohio State University with mentor and coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), to the 1936 Olympics, the plot features a 1930s/40s world following the rise of the Nazi Regime and Aryan supremacy prior to and during the 1936 Olympics where Owens made his stake. It is a story that can captivate audiences with the virtually life-like passion of one of the United States’ most influential Olympic athletes.


Under the direction of Stephen Hopkins, the technical aspects of this film ran smoothly, but not in any particularly awe-inspiring manner. The depiction of a 1940s feel was, in my opinion, quite accurate, and the writers did well to reference history, but the film was lacking the animosity and resentment that Nazi extremists really expressed. To accentuate this lack of negativity, the producers added a completely meaningless scene that incorporated Sudeikis stumbling into a back alley looking for shoes only to witnessthe “rounding up of
Jews”. Sure, this showed us how the Nazi’s treated t
heir arrangement with the Americans, but it was so poorly integrated into the film that it immediately left viewers feeling like, “Well that was a waste of five minutes.”


In other aspects, such as casting, the film did quite well. Initially I was skeptical when it came to having Sudeikis playing the role of the universally cliché, old-fashioned-hard-ass mentor who turns out to have a soft heart. He had traditionally taken roles in films like Horrible Bosses which had almost no serious undertones, but as Race progressed and the relationship between Owens and Snyder improved, so did Sudeikis’ acting method. On the other hand, the casting of Stephan James into the shoes of Jesse Owens had almost no semblance of fault throughout the entirety of the film. This type casting worked well and with the humble demeanor and
working-for-what-you-want attitude emanating very naturally from James, it felt as if we were truly witnessing Owens make history.


Race’s audio was also pretty well done with musical composition by Rachel Portman who is well-known for her work with the French Independent, Chocolat.
Along with her scoring and some well-timed fades by the audio technicians, these effects evoked some powerful emotions throughout the film as well as emulate the very same feeling I believe many athletes feel when they engage in their sport. This realism gives the film a slight edge over prior replica films like The Jesse Owens Story of ’84.


The directing and filming style of this film was fluid, and a pleasure to watch, but not really anything spectacular. Sure, this production is charming in its own little quaiRace Review- Mareknt way, but it wasn’t constructed with anything particularly jaw-dropping. That’s not to say that that is what this film needs to be successful, merely an observation from a movie-goer that values entertainment and allegorical meaning over other aspects. All these little pieces fit together in their own niche as role-players, and these players play a good team game with few shortcomings, thus eliciting a 3.5/5 rating.