An over-the-top, sensory overload experience determined to replicate its frantic, television-anime origins, Speed Racer
is wild enough to induce a headache or wow a viewer with one dazzling effect after another. Adapted for the big screen as a live-action feature, Speed Racer
is written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the sibling team behind the intensely satisfying The Matrix
and its busier, less interesting sequels. Where the rich myth-making of The Matrix
was entirely accessible, however, Speed Racer
's overwhelming and gratuitously complicated story exposition is an enormous challenge to follow, let alone embrace. After a while, one simply surrenders to the unbroken din of dialogue concerning corporate chicanery, corruption in the sport of racing, and a value conflict between racing as a family business versus multinational cash cow. At the same time, the film's hyper-real equivalent of the old Speed Racer
cartoon's great whoosh of color, motion, and edgy production design--such as inventive uses of scene-changing wipes, bold framing, shifting perspectives--are more overbearing than fun.
Emile Hirsch plays Speed Racer, younger brother of a deceased racing legend, Rex, and son of car designer Pops (John Goodman). The latter invented Speed's Mach 5, and is singularly unimpressed by an offer from a giant conglomerate that would lock Speed into exclusive racing services. Speed opts instead for family loyalty, incurring the wrath of the conglomerate's unctuous head (Roger Allam). With family honor on the line and the affections of girlfriend Trixie (Christina Ricci) behind him, Speed hits the track in hopes of fulfilling his destiny as a master racer. The cast is largely enjoyable, including Susan Sarandon as Speed's mom, Matthew Fox as mysterious Racer X, and a pair of chimps as the irrepressible Chim-Chim. All well and good, but in a movie that lives or dies by the excitement level of races that look like computer-animated Hot Wheels action, Speed Racer is a dreary adventure. --Tom Keogh
The Wachowski brothers, the duo behind The Matrix Trilogy
, are back with Speed Racer
. Hurtling down the track, careening around, over and through the competition, Speed Racer (Emile Hirsh, Into The Wild
) is a natural behind the wheel. Born to race cars, Speed is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolised-the legendary Rex Racer - whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill. Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer (John Goodman), the designer of Speed's thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company's maniacal owner but uncovers a terrible secret... With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed teams up with his one-time rival-the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox, Lost
) - to try and win the race that had taken his brother's life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible.