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The Films of Stephen Hopkins

Dangerous Game

A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child

Click here for review.

Predator 2

Judgment Night

Blown Away

The Ghost and the Darkness

Lost in Space

Under Suspicion

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers

The Reaping

Thorne: Sleepyhead

Race (March 24/16)

Based on true events, Race follows 1930s athlete Jesse Owens (Stephan James) as he overcomes a series of obstacles to dominate the 1936 Olympic Games in the track and field category (much to the chagrin of no less than Adolf Hitler himself). Filmmaker Stephen Hopkins is certainly not looking to deliver anything other than a traditional and often by-the-numbers biopic here, as Race boasts virtually all of the conventions that one has come to expect from movies of this ilk - with the underdog-makes-good narrative heightened by Peter Levy's sweeping visuals and Rachel Portman's rousing score. It's clear, too, that Hopkins does a superb job of initially drawing the viewer into the slow-moving proceedings, with the early part of Race containing a number of better-than-expected sequences that effectively cultivate a promising atmosphere. (Ranking high on the movie's list of effective first-half moments are an exciting qualification trial for Jesse and a fascinating meeting between an Olympics official and Joseph Goebbels.) The movie, however, segues into a disappointingly (and palpably) flabby midsection that's rife with padded-out and needless segments, which ensures that Race's second half, which suffers from a series of lulls, finds itself saddled with a get-on-with-it-already sort of vibe that proves rather disastrous. And although James delivers a sympathetic, engaging performance, Owens' eventual success isn't, as a result, quite as exciting and attention-grabbing as one might've anticipated - which ultimately dulls the impact of the feel-good finale, to put it mildly, and confirms Race's place as a passable yet somewhat disappointing look at an iconic American figure.

out of

© David Nusair