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Release Date:
19th February 2016
134 min
MPAA Rating:
Stephen Hopkins
Anna Waterhouse, Joe Shrapnel
English, German
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p


In the 1930s, Jesse Owens is a young man who is the first in his family to go to college. Going to Ohio State to train under its track and field coach, Larry Snyder, the young African American athlete quickly impresses with his tremendous potential that suggests Olympic material. However, as Owens struggles both with the obligations of his life and the virulent racism against him, the question of whether America would compete at all at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany is being debated vigorously. When American envoy, Avery Brundage, finds a compromise personally persuasive and tolerable enough with the Third Reich to avert a boycott, Owens has his own moral struggle on whether to go. Upon resolving that issue, Owens and his coach travel to Berlin to participate in a competition that would mark Owens as the greatest of the American Olympians even as the German film director, Leni Riefenstahl, locks horns with her country's Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels, to film the politically embarrassing fact for posterity.


Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 61%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 79%
IMDb Rating 7.1


Carice van Houten as Leni Riefenstahl
Eli Goree as Dave Albritton
Jason Sudeikis as Larry Snyder
Shanice Banton as Ruth Solomon
Stephan James as Jesse Owens

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Tony Heck ([email protected]) 4th June, 2016

A sports movie that once again shows the triumph of the human spirit and how everyone is equal when the gun goes off.

"A man has to present an image to the world." Jesse Owens (James) is a college track star. His coach Larry Snyder (Sudeikis) pushes him to be the best he can be. Jesse pushes himself on and off the track to be the best person and athlete he can be. Everything is going as he wants, he becomes a record breaking collegiate champion with his Olympic dream in his sights. The only thing stopping him is his conscience. With Olympic gold in his grasp Jesse must decide if he is willing to compete in Germany, as an African-American, with Hitler watching. This movie is in my wheelhouse. Not only is this a sports movie but its a true story as well. I knew the basics of the Owens story, but this movie goes deeper into the pressure put on him from both sides of the Nazi debate. Even knowing how the movie will turn out the drama was gripping enough to keep me interested and wondering how he got to where he was at. Sudeikis actually does a really good job in a non comedic role and is almost the perfect choice for the coach. This is a movie I cannot say enough about. I highly recommend this, and the use of the n-word is limited so this is OK for family viewing as well. Overall, a sports movie that once again shows the triumph of the human spirit and how everyone is equal when the gun goes off. I give this an A-.

Reviewed by DrZom-77-388656 22nd May, 2016

Poor research?

I think the script writers were confused. Either they don't know the difference between Cleveland, Ohio and Cleveland, Mississippi, or they don't care, which would be even worse. There was no discrimination in public accommodations in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1930s. African Americans did not have to sit in the back of the bus. When the script called for Jessie Owens to sit in the back of a bus in Cleveland, Ohio, it was in complete disregard for the truth. I checked with my mother, who went to the same high school with Jessie Owens. She went everywhere on the bus or the street car. Everyone did. And they all sat together, black and white. Another problem with the script was the blatant racism in the locker room at Ohio State University. The Buckeye football team was already integrated by the time Jessie Owens arrived. William "Big Bill" Bell was an All American for the Buckeyes, and played from 1929 to 1931. I guess there could have been some racists who gave Jessie Owens some grief in the locker room, but it certainly would not have been so institutionalized as depicted in the film. As much as those blatant misportrayals bother me, the thing that bothered me most was when Jessie was agonizing over whether to go to Berlin, his wife told him that he was never much good at thinking, so he should not do it. How much more racially condescending could the script writer be? What a shame that this movie that could have been a rich source for teaching a moral lesson instead was turned into a source of misinformation and condescension. The movie had some good moments, so I give it 4 out of 10 stars. Do not accept it as a reflection of reality, as it is not.

Reviewed by pcqgod 20th April, 2016

May take liberties with actual events

'Race' is an overall entertaining movie hampered by some fairly predictable flaws. It features pretty standard sports movie cliches, e.g., hard-ass coach with heart of gold, rival who becomes best friend, etc. The personal (melo)drama seems pretty mundane, and, as to be expected in historical dramas, certain liberties are taken with the facts for dramatic purposes. But there is interesting dramatic tension in the scenes in which the US Olympics commission debates boycotting the '36 games, and in Owens' personal struggle over whether to compete in the face of certain factions of the black community entreating him not to. The actual scenes of competition are presented in an exciting fashion. My favorite scene captures Owens' P.O.V. as he enters Berlin Stadium at the height of pre-War Nazi pageantry, Hindenburg flying overhead, Hitler waving in the stands to a thunderous chorus of "Sieg Heils." It must have been overwhelming. Carice van Houten plays Leni Refienstahl as a sympathetic character, defying Goebbel's orders to tell the true story of the 1936 Olympics, and Stephan James as Owens provides an enjoyable leading performance.

Reviewed by steve_ford53 23rd February, 2016

Runners to your marks: Ready: Set:

Maybe not as prominently remembered as he once was, Jesse Owens, was one of those men in history who was able to overcome the many barriers in his life to exemplify greatness. Not only as an athlete, but as a human being. "RACE" is the story of Jesse Owens(Stephan James) from 1933 through 1936. James Cleveland Owens was born in Alabama and at age 9 moved with his family to Cleveland, Ohio. It was in Cleveland where one of his teachers, unable to understand his thick southern accent, thought he was saying his name was Jesse when in fact he had been saying JC. This mistake led to JC being known as Jesse for the rest of his life. A prominent high school track athlete, Jesse entered The Ohio State University in 1933 and began his NCAA track career under the tutelage of legendary track coach Larry Snyder(Jason Sudeikis). Snyder recognized greatness in Jesse the first time he watched him run and let Jesse know that he would be able to compete and win in the 1936 Olympic Games. The movie moves from Jesse's life and troubles to Nazi Germany and back again. The story of The Amateur Athletic Union(AAU) and the American Olympic Committee(AOC), struggling with the decision to attend or boycott the games, runs parallel to Jesse's trials, tribulations and his ultimate success. When the AAU and AOC make the decision to attend the games, the NAACP asks Jesse to refuse to enter. Due to the atrocities being committed against the Jewish population in Germany and the open hatred the Nazis expressed toward other races as well, the NAACP felt Jesse's refusal to attend the games would make a strong statement. The decision to attend the games by Owens turned out to be a much more powerful statement than could ever have been imagined. As the scene unfolded and the representative of the NAACP told Jesse what a strong statement his boycott would make, I was hoping the writer's would have had Jesse respond by saying, "It will be much more meaningful for me to attend the games and come home with the Gold" – or something along that line. Jesse Owens, to me, has always been one of the larger than life individuals that only come along every so often. The film not only celebrates Jesse Owens' accomplishments, it also emphasizes the wrongs to which people of color had to endure in the United States. Even at a dinner held in Mr. Owens' honor, Jesse and his wife were asked to enter the hotel through the service entrance. The filmmaker's parallel stories of Jesse and Nazi Germany, as they prepare for the games, brings to the forefront the hypocrisy of our American Ideals and what was really happening to many of our citizens. "RACE" is a title that fits well because it not only speaks to Jesse's prominence on the track, but to the relationship between the citizens of this planet. The story is a worthwhile one. Historical figures like Jesse Owens need to be kept in our memory. However, as great as Jesse Owens was, this was not a great film. At 134 minutes, I felt it was a tad too long. I also felt it dragged somewhat at various times. Although the parallel story of what was happening in Europe at this time in our history is important, I feel to much time was spent on that story and not enough on Mr. Owens. I recommend seeing this film although I feel the matinee price would be the best option.

Reviewed by gpachovsky 22nd February, 2016

Great movie, lousy title

It was with some trepidation that I went to see this movie. Jesse Owens had been my sports hero since the eighth grade when I discovered that he had been holding the world broad jump record for 24 years, an extraordinarily long time for a 12-year-old to contemplate, and won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games. But I had the lingering fear that the biopic would emphasize his awards rather than the quest for excellence, as evidenced by his performances, and the usual self-flagellation that whites are supposed to feel for their past treatment of African-Americans even though history can't be changed. I was also put off by the multi-layered but generally meaningless title "Race" which like similar recent one-word titles such as "Rush," "Flight," and "Room" smack of artistic pretension and self-importance, professing to offer so much more than they can possibly deliver. Happily, I can report that my fears were unfounded. The movie was, by and large, wonderful and a worthy tribute to perhaps the greatest American track and field athlete ever. Yes, it does show some of the seamier sides of the African-American – and, to a lesser degree, the Jewish – experience at home and during the Berlin games as well as the German people's attitudes at the time but director Stephen Hopkins wisely does not dwell on them too much, since to do so would bring a biased 2015 perspective to the earth-shaking events which were unfolding at the time and the outcome of which had yet to be determined. Fortunately, the film's main focus is on the athlete during his record-breaking years of 1935-36 and Canadian born Stephen James does an admirable job in portraying the legendary Owens. He manages to keep the emoting down to tolerable levels, presenting Jesse as a polite, respectful, family man with just enough bravado to appreciate his own God-given talents. His performances on the track (and in the broad jump), while hard to emulate the original, are convincing enough. Particularly good are the scenes showing him break or tie four world records at the Big Ten Conference Championships at Ann Arbor, Michigan on May 25th, 1935. Less credible is Jason Sudeikis' portrayal of Coach Larry Snyder. While he may have been a difficult taskmaster, he comes off as too boorish and too bombastic to earn Owens' unwavering respect. Their relationship, at times, is not entirely convincing. I have to note here that his repeated reference to Charles Paddock's victory in the 1924 Olympic 100 meters is incorrect. Paddock won in 1920. Harold Abrahams of Great Britain won in 1924 (as shown in "Chariots of Fire."). To be sure, there are questions that the movie does not delve into deeply enough but for a true blue lifetime Jesse Owens fan like myself, the overall effect of the movie is extremely satisfying, not too much and not too little. It is memorable enough that I will want to get the DVD when it comes out. I only wish I could change that insipid title.