Speed Racer


The Wachowskis grind gears in a flashy but empty vehicle…

Blue pill. Red pill. Acid tab… The Wachowski brothers’ day-glo grand prix is a whacked-out wacky race that rewinds to the summer of ’67 in more ways than one.

Back then, young Andy and Larry first clocked Japanese anime Mahha GoGoGo redubbed for US nippers as Speed Racer. They were hooked… Forty years and $120m later, this is their gaudy love letter, a bubblegum racing flick with more retina-traumatising colours than a Pink Floyd light show.

It looks incredible- loop-the-loop dynamos charging round the track in a blur of kinetic, candy-striped motion - yet there’s nada under the hood. Same goes for the DVD’s two good-looking featurettes: an in-world doc about car specs and a comedy Making Of which sees kiddie actor Paulie Litt mucking about on the studio  backlot.

No Wachowskis, no point. Styled as a garish Tokyo drift of pop art abstraction, Racer is ultimately a vacuous vroom. Andy Warhol would be proud; the rest of us are left plain confused as a simple plot is chopped into an ADD jitter of future / past / present.

Boy racer Emile Hirsch is part Elvis, part River Phoenix and all talent, but can’t out-race the greenscreen overload. Christina Ricci simply submits, wilfully turning herself into a saucer-eyed manga mannequin.

For all its acceleration Speed Racer snags and drags, a two-hour promo of seductive emptiness that deadens the soul as totally as any matrix (plug in, turn on, tune out) while proving the old adage: more haste, less speed.

Jamie Russell

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