It's been a long while since I've seen anything from director Stephen Hopkins; It seems he's been filming a lot of TV in recent years. Two films of the nineties, directed by Hopkins have been favorites of mine and cult classics of others, firstly the Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr. And Denis Leary starrer 'Judgement Night' and then Jeff Bridges and Tommy Lee Jones under-rated film 'Blown Away' both gripping and well made thrillers.
He hasn't lost his touch with 'Race', instantly capturing 1930's American at a time of discrimination basing this film of the Olympic champion Jesse Owens who traveled to pre-war Nazi Germany for the 1936 Olympics. Though I'm not sure how much of it is actually factual as there has been some reports of irregularities.
The cast is strong yet boldly choosing a fairly unknown, newcomer Stephan James as the lead. The only fault maybe, not attracting a larger audience due to the fresh face, but nonetheless, he performs amazingly well. Jason Sudeikis, is a completely different actor, this being his first serious, non-comical role and he out performs all his previous films, proving what a good actor he is, playing trainer Larry Synder.
Other cast members include Game Of Thrones' Melisandre, Carice van Houten playing Germany filmmaker trying to capture the unrestricted events of the Olympics. William Hurt and the ever busy Jeremy Irons, being his fourth film to pop up on my screen this year, both playing American officials deciding the political stance.
The film isn't solely about challenging discrimination and the Olympics, but also about tolerance, change, wanting to change and good sportsmanship. The script is amazing with some clever and good pieces, it's got great structure and doesn't lose pace covering a lot of ground. I'm surprised at the score, being composed by Rachel Port-man, it didn't seem like her usual work but still, very triumphant and impressive.
There's a fine balance between drama and running and jumping. The action is perfectly captured without the over dramatics, and allowing the acting and scenery to portray the feeling and excitement. One scene in particular when Jesse Owens enters the stadium for the first time, standing in awe, especially with the Zeppelin fly-by.
Ignoring the minor glitches in history, it's tells a good story and you leave having a greater admiration for both star and character. A surprising hit for me.