Sunday 12 July, 2020

Why you should watch 'Sprinter' while on lockdown

This past week I was one happy Yardie in Cayman because I discovered that a movie from my homeland JA was making its Netflix debut. I had not seen Sprinter as yet and just like the rest of the world right now, I was in dire need of "a feel-good movie."

“Alexa, play Sprinta di movie!” I ordered my remote and post-shelter-in-place BFF... and... voila! In less than 9.58 seconds I was on my way to re-living my glory days as a track and field athlete at Jamaica College... but dat is a whole other story...

Set mostly against a Jamaican landscape, Sprinter had its theatrical release several months ago but made its first Netflix appearance on Thursday night. What a timely addition it was!

Not only had I been tired of seeing the same old titles, but I was excited to watch something I could finally relate to.

Sprinter tells the story of a young athlete, Akeem Sharp (Dale Elliot) who is a budding track athlete in Jamaica but becomes a bonafide local star when his coach transfers him from the 400m race to the 200m. Track and field, however, is among the least of Akeem’s concerns as he confronts a number of socio-psychological themes familiar to Caribbean people. Akeem’s mother left the family for the USA in search of a better life ten years prior, leaving Akeem to navigate relationships with his father (Dennis Titus) and brother, Germaine (Kadeem Wilson).

The heart, nostalgia and admittedly easy emotional path of Sprinter is something that viewers need at this difficult time. The film’s writer and director, the talented Storm Saultier, nailed a feel-good story with all of the elements required to ensure that the entire region could relate but that a global audience could follow.

“There is no shortcut to dis ting, not in track and field, not in life. Mental blinkas.”

These words of motivation uttered by Akeem's coach (David Alan Grier) might very well be applicable to current life as we navigate the long winding track of the novel coronavirus. No "mental blinkas" are required to help us focus on a great film that helps break up the monotony of lockdown and quarantine that feels more like a marathon than a sprint.

Cameos by regional powerhouses Glen “Titus” Campbell and Dahlia Harris put a smile on my face and I even enjoyed a few cringe-worthy moments when David Alan Grier clobbered a patois word, but what stole the show for me was the acting of Kadeem Wilson. Wilson's time on the screen was sharp and direct, signifying the emergence of a new noteworthy face in the industry.

It is easy to see why this must-see on any "lockdown lineup" got the backing of Hollywood power couple Will and Jada Smith.

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