Directed by: Larry & Andy Wachowski
PG. 135 mins
An experiment gone awry, this sugary-sweet ride dazzles for a moment, but spends much of it’s abhorrent running length sputtering to the finish line no thanks to repetitive sequences, lazy storytelling and mind-numbing special effects. Based on Tatsuo Yoshida’s iconic 1960s anime, Speed Racer is rebooted by Andy and Larry Wachowski (The Matrix). This is the family-friendly story of Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch), a talented driver with an unbeatable instinct.
After his older brother Rex dies in a car crash, the Racer family worries about Speed’s safety as he vows to maintain his brother’s legacy, no matter the danger. With the support from his mother (Susan Sarandon) and mechanically-gifted father (John Goodman) Speed catches the attention of a corporate giant with his winning Mach 5. He quickly receives an offer from Royalton Industries – the racing giant that promises him fame and fortune, but could mean the downfall of small businesses, like his father’s. Speed can’t stand to break from his family so he declines the offer and incites a rage in the company’s leader (Roger Allam). The only way to keep Speed and the family business alive is to win the very same race that claimed his brother years ago. An alliance with the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox) and the support of the his longtime girlfriend (Christina Ricci) encourage Speed to shoot for the finish line and accomplish the impossible. There’s a lot of spirit here, and the casting is great, but underneath all the kinetic lights there isn’t much depth to this story. Perhaps there could be, but the writing falls so flat that even the talent struggles to bring meaning to this relatively vapid adventure.
There’s plenty of excitement to be had, but there’s a real lack of momentum the longer this painfully one-dimensional story drags on. Failing to convince both adults and young gamers – who probably can’t sit through the entire feature anyways – the film is mired in CGI action, making it almost impossible to care for the human elements of the film. Colourful and at times, playful and unabashedly cheesy, Speed Racer has a certain charm about it but this is a roller coaster ride that few will be able to stomach a second time.