In Sprinter, Dale Elliott stars as Akeem, a 17-year-old high school student whose mother (Lorraine Toussaint) left him and his older brother with their father in Jamaica while she moved to America for two years. Those years came and went and ten years later, she was still in the states; her two boys growing up without her, except for their regular Skype conversations. His track coach (David Alan Grier) encourages him to try running the 200 meter race instead of the 400-meter event he was used to losing in. He quickly rises to fame as a track star and earns the nickname “Rocket” because of his explosive speed. While those around him see the fame and fortune in his future, Akeem is more inspired by the fact that he could qualify for a race in the U.S., and finally see his mother.
While Akeem’s Rocky-like training regimen and rise to the top is thoroughly entertaining (and even includes a cameo by Usain Bolt) what’s more striking about the film is the range of emotions displayed by Akeem as well as his father and brother as they cope with their mother’s absence in their own ways. It highlights a struggle all too familiar to so many immigrant families and shows Jamaica in a way we haven’t seen before on film.
Check out the trailer for Sprinter: