Sandy Kenyon reviews 'Race,' bio-pic of Jesse Owens

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new look at the story of a legendary athlete hits theaters this weekend, with track and field star Jesse Owens the subject of the new bio-pic called "Race."

It explores Owens' challenges on and off the track.

Known as "the fastest man alive," Owens brought hope to America during the Great Depression, and never more so than when he challenged the racist ideas of Adolph Hitler.

He once set three world records in less than an hour, defying racism and embarrassing Hitler by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin just a few years before the start of World War II.

The movie, called "Race," is a worthy tribute to one of the greatest athletes who ever lived.

His transcendent speed first drew attention at Ohio State, where a former runner who never fulfilled his own potential coached him to greatness.

Jason Sudeikis is not quite as adept at drama as he has been in comedy, but he is credible enough. Cynical and oily, Jeremy Irons is perfectly cast as the head of the U.S. Olympic committee. And Stephen James rises to the challenge of playing such an iconic role.

The first hour of "Race" drags, but it is fascinating to learn how Owens was under pressure NOT to run in the nazi's backyard.

The U.S. almost boycotted the games due to the Nazi regime, and the games themselves are recreated well. But the downside is that we don't learn enough about Jesse Owens. We come to understand what made him special, but not enough about how this athlete reached inside himself to achieve such greatness.

Owens died in 1980 and is remembered as a hero, but this film introduces him to a younger generation and reminds older people just how extraordinary he was, especially in light of the widespread racism he faced.

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