“This isn’t a war, man, it’s a race.”
The Scoop: 2009 NR, directed by Takeshi Koike and starring Takuya Kimura, Yû Aoi, and Tadanobu Asano/Patrick Seitz, Michelle Ruff, and Liam O’Brien
Summary Capsule: A scrappy underdog competes in an illegal “car” race with other drivers from across the galaxy.
Eunice’s rating: My brain feels slightly fried.
Eunice’s review: In the very distant future, space travel is common and humans and aliens have mixed. Cars are mostly computerized hover crafts, but a few adventurous rebels still race with tricked out tire/hover hybrids.
The ultimate is the Redline, a moving illegal race that happens every five years. Part car race part bloodsport, it’s an over the top media blitzing big time gambling event. The drivers come from all over the galaxy and range from lifelong racers to royalty, bounty hunters, criminals, cyborgs, dirty cops, singers, and whatever else makes it through the qualifying rounds. While some approach it as any means necessary violence and weapons, others are straight old fashion racing with honor types.
One of these is a down on his luck professional racer that was in jail for fixing races. Sporting an exaggerated pompadour, “Sweet” JP dreams of making it to the Redline, but has never won a race. He and his childhood and best friend Frisbee, who is also his manager and car engineer, are pretty much owned by a gangster and are paid to stack the betting odds and then throw races. After coming in second in the Yellowline race, JP is out of the running… Or is he?
This year’s Redline is on a dangerous totalitarian military powered planet called Roboworld, making some racers drop out since the race isn’t worth risking their lives with the government. As an alternate JP is back in. And that’s when he meets Sonoshee a beautiful no nonsense young woman who’s been racing since she was a child.
Animation studio MADHOUSE outdoes themselves as Redline is all about creating sensory overload. Experimental 2D animating techniques with a retro homage feel conveys a sense of speed (as in movement) while on acid (as in hallucinogens). Bright bold rich colors combine with heavy shading and shadows to contrast against negative space. Character designs are extreme and car and airship designs are ridiculous. And each setting is lovingly drawn whether it’s a dreamy water themed bar or a gritty ugly refugee town. Add in a killer soundtrack from composer James Shimoji for an insane mix.
Unfortunately, while Redline is a feast for the eyes and ears, it doesn’t give the brain much to chew on. A decidedly adult tale, it’s in the same vein as Heavy Metal, Ninja Scroll, or something by Peter Chung. Violent and dirty and sometimes naked.
In just the write up I’ve given you there’s four of five story lines, and there’s way more in the actual movie, thrown out one after another with little to no time to process what’s going on. I can’t help feel like this would’ve made aa amazing series or an eye popping short, but instead it’s like RACE*bam*plot point*bam*plot point to another story*bam*TV news story telling*bam*nudity*bam*bar fight*BAM*… You get the idea. While it does tell a story from beginning to end, the flow of it feels disjointed and overstuffed and most of the characters hollow.
Let me just say here that the character thing isn’t the fault of the voice actors, either in English or Japanese. Nothing to complain about there.
But Redline isn’t about story so much as using the story to set up crazy visuals for the race. And the characters are crazy and visual. All leading up to the end where it all gleefully and beautifully loses it’s mind. Yet is still strangely satisfying.
What it’s good at, it does great. Even with all the over the topness of everything, the relationships of JP and Sonoshee, and JP and his crew, add a little heart. Colorful and entertaining it’s worth watching if you’re an animation fan.
- Takeshi Koike’s directorial debut, Redline took seven years and 100,000 hand-made drawings.
- Funky Boy?
- I really like the end theme ‘Redline Day’
Frisbee: You telling me you suddenly got principles or something?
JP: This isn’t a war, man, it’s a race.
Sonoshee: No such thing as friends on a race track, you know.
Todoroki: GUTS AND GLORY!
Sonoshee: I only made it halfway though, didn’t even get to see the finish line.
JP: This thing’s a little cramped, but kinda cozy. We could see it together.
JP: I can’t lose! I’ve got a goddess on my side, and I’m gonna win!
If You Liked This Movie Try These:
- Heavy Metal
- Macross Plus
- Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
- Death Race 2000