Speed Racer

Speed Racer ★★★★

Rewatched this with my kids, who couldn't believe that I liked it. To be clear, they liked it too, but it's such a glossy, loud and broad entertainment that it seems exactly like the kind of thing their grumpy old man would detest.

The trick of it though, is hiding the substance and nuance out in the open, unobscured by the mannerist filmmaking motions that more artful filmmakers employ. You can load up a show horse like, oh say, the painfully overrated "The Power of the Dog" with "tasteful" narrative tics and "sophisticated" storytelling flourishes, and come out ahead of it all with a widely lauded piece of highfalutin cinema. Sure, that's easy—well if it's not easy, it's hardly surprising.

But it's much harder to suffuse a bright, simplistic entertainment like "Speed Racer" with genuine emotion and a powerful sense of velocity that still seems innovative more than a dozen years after its initial release. This whole thing is a whirlwind, a gale force storm that sweeps you up from the first and barely lets you stop for a breath for two-plus hours. It's beguiling the whole way along; the Wachowskis are fashioning a whole new world here out of parts fresh out of the CG factory, oftentimes even before they're done, before they're road tested and hardy. And you can see that, you can see the seams, the poor digital matte effects, and the sun-blistered, extremely overheated color palette. It's not perfect, but it _feels_ complete, feels fully considered, and if not livable, then fully lived in. And it feels fully felt, too, which is the most amazing thing. Even watching now, maybe for the fifth or sixth time, I'm just mystified by how I find myself actually really caring for these characters, their pasts and their trials and tribulations, from the very first act. There's not a lot here that explains why it's so easy to get invested in them—a series of terrific, fully bought in performances that never wink at the camera play a big role, of course—but it works, it really works.

Hot take: this is the very best of all of the Wachowskis' movies. Even that one with the sunglasses and trench coats.

Block or Report

Khoi liked these reviews