Finding out just where you fit in while your life is seemingly spiralling out of control is hard for anyone, and the same can be said for high school student Akeem (Dale Elliott) in the film, Sprinter. With a passion for running, the teenager wants to continue in the footsteps of his brother, Germaine (Kadeem Wilson) and run the 400m race. However, coach Miller (David Alan Grier) believes that Akeem is destined for the 200m race. While resistant to the idea at first, Akeem has no other choice when one of his team members goes down during a race, and he is the one who must take his place in the 200m sprint.
While this changes Akeem’s life for the better, his home life is far from perfect. His mother, Donna (Lorraine Toussaint) moved to the United States of America when Akeem and Germaine were boys in order to provide their family with a better life. Leaving behind her two young sons and her husband, Garfield (Dennis Titus), Donna tries to maintain her connection with her husband, and wants her children to know that she hadn’t abandoned them for good – although in Akeem’s mind, that is how it feels. Akeem tries his best to navigate his personal life and new-found success in track & field, while still dealing with his own demons off the track – mainly the rift between him and his parents, which lead him down some dangerous paths. However, his sprinting teammate, Kerry (Shantol Jackson) tries hr best to help Akeem focus and stay on track – literally and figuratively.
Written and directed by Storm Saulter, and executive produced Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith, Sprinter is a film that should be watched by any fans of track & field, as well as those who just enjoy an impactful film with characters you want to cheer for. The standout element of this film is certainly the cast. With veteran actors such as Lorraine Toussaint, David Alan Grier and Dennis Titus, it was great to see the younger actors holding their own with such powerhouses alongside them. Elliott, Wilson and Jackson are great in each of their respective roles, and it will be a treat to see what the future has in-store for the three of them. It’s rare in movies to have many relatable characters, and while the audience may not always understand or believe in their motivations, there’s still that piece of humanity that draws you to them regardless. This is an element that Sprinter does a great job at pulling off.
As much as the film is about sports, it’s also an ode to family and community, and also serves as a love letter to Jamaica and its people. The film does a great job in balancing the tone with many dramatic moments, while still preserving comedic elements that are very much a staple of people’s day-to-day lives. This paired with a cast of characters you’ll love to watch, Sprinter is most definitely a film that one should check out, regardless of being a track & field fan.
Sprinter is playing in select theaters now!