Entertainment·MOVIE REVIEW

Race, biopic of Olympic hero Jesse Owens, takes the safe route, says CBC's Eli Glasner

As Olympic champion Jesse Owens, Stephan James shines in Race. But an uninspired treatment and script reduce this gold-medal tale to predictable drama.

Canadian up-and-comer Stephan James shines as Jesse Owens

As Olympic champion Jesse Owens, Stephan James shines in Race. But an uninspired treatment and script reduce this gold-medal tale to predictable drama, says Eli Glasner 2:48

As Jesse Owens, the African-American track-and-field superstar of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Race star Stephan James radiates confidence. 

Canadian up-and-comer James and funnyman Jason Sudeikis, as Owens' unconventional coach, deliver strong performances in the Stephen Hopkins film.

Unfortunately, Race feels like a lustrous after-school special, suffering from an uninspired treatment that favours a cozy, glossy look over gritty authenticity.

Canadian actor Stephan James radiates confidence as Jesse Owens in the new Stephen Hopkins film Race. (Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features/Associated Press)

What also doesn't help is the sprawling script saddled with side stories: from the battle over whether to boycott an Olympics held in Nazi-ruled Germany to a subplot about propaganda filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, whose footage would become the groundbreaking doc Olympia.

In the end, Race is a little too obvious, says CBC's Eli Glasner.

Watch the video above for Glasner's complete review.

RATING: 3 out of 5 stars

Race rests on strong performances from Stephan James, centre, as Jesse Owens and Jason Sudeikis, right, as his coach Larry Snyder. (Thibault Grabherr/Focus Features/Associated Press)

About the Author

Eli Glasner

Entertainment reporter and film critic

Eli Glasner is a national entertainment reporter and film critic for CBC News. Each Friday he reviews films on CBC News Network as well as appearing on CBC radio programs coast to coast. Covering culture has taken him from the northern tip of Moosonee, Ont. to the Oscars red carpet.

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