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Speed Racer

Released: 2008

Genre: Kids & Family

Runtime: 2 hr 15 min

MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski

Starring: Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Saradon, Paulie Litt

Big-budget, CGI-driven adaptation of the Japanese cartoon.

Speed Racer could never be accused of stasis.

Review by: TomElce

Added: 7 years ago

Speed Racer could never be accused of stasis. A visually audacious and ethereally eye-popping cinematic experience far outranking the soulless razzle dazzle of Michael Bay's abhorrent Transformers, the Wachowski Brothers' adaptation of the '60s anime series utilizes the oft-overlooked Emile Hirsch, here playing the titular driver, as a guide through a rapturous storytelling smorgasbord. Epilleptics need not apply, because the movie exists as something so joyfully flashy and rich in diverse colourisations it could be Electric Soldier Porygon: The Movie to some people. For everyone else, this is filmic candy: an action-packed family film one can feel, experience, taste. An opening montage lays out the history of Speed, presenting him as a shiny-eyed young boy obsessed with motor racing and as the older driver incarnation, neatly detailing the ascension and downfall-cum-death of his hero brother Rex (Scott Porter) to better inform the motivations of our eponymous hero, played splendidly by Hirsch, further adding to a resume including excellent performances in 2004's The Girl Next Door, 2006's Alpha Dog and 2007's Into the Wild. The scene finds him seeming to literally race the ghost of his departed brother, and provokes genuine smiles when this opening lap ends.

This lively opening sets a precedent for the remainder of the movie, a fast-flowing pic rich in numerous adventurous race set-pieces and approachable characterisations that endear themselves as much to older audience members as to the youngsters of the crowd. Larry and Andy have put the overreaching, overrated Matrix behind them with this one, an authentically winning, humorous speed trial so compulsively watchable that it doesn't seem like a two hour-plus film at all. Chimp-centric humour pops up too frequently, but is easily overshadowed by Speed Racer's more credible elements, such as the supreme lighting, framing of scope and possession of hugely likable performances (among the cast, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox, John Goodman and Roger Allam -- here recycling his V for Vendetta personage -- all leave lasting impressions). Heck, any movie where gangster shakedowns transpire inside a moving truck has to be at least a little worth seeing.