Time to hand out the medals. Stephen Hopkins’ Race is the first of the recent spate of Jesse Owens biopics to cross the cinematic finish line, releasing a new trailer today to show off Stephan James’ performance as the Olympic gold medalist. If the video is anything to go off of, James will be going for the “quietly dignified” approach to depicting the celebrated runner, leaving Jason Sudeikis’ fedora-topped track coach to inject some snark and energy into the surrounding events.
Of course, the title Race isn’t just a reference to those things that Owens became very famous for winning, but also a double entendre about his status as a prominent black athlete forced to overcome prejudice in the first half of the twentieth century. Thus, we’re treated to the requisite scenes of white athletes harassing Owens and his friends in the locker room, black leaders pushing him to stand up for the community, and James himself getting in Sudeikis’ face to yell about the additional pressures of being black. All of this is set against the backdrop of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where Owens grabbed national prominence with a multi-medal winning performance, an event that looks to be getting set up as the emotional and political center of Hopkins’ film.