The Wachowski brothers remind us that not all heroes require radioactive spiders, gamma rays or even high-tech suits of armor. Sometimes all they need is faith in themselves, their family's support and an awesome car as seen in the insanely colorful and hyper-kinetic Speed Racer.
Emile Hirsch ("Into the Wild") stars as Speed Racer, driver of the Mach 5 racecar. From the time that Speed is a little boy, it's clear that racing's in his blood. Based on the classic Japanese cartoon, Speed sets out to avenge the tarnished legacy of his brother and clean up the racing business while not selling out to the sinister racing conglomerate Royalton Industries.
The Wachowskis, creators of the Matrix films, set the bar mixing computer special effects with live action to create a world that resembles a box of crayons on LSD, but is a visual fun ride. After failing to make Speed part of his corporate machine, Royalton vows to
destroy his family by any means necessary. Speed joins with Inspector Detector, the mysterious Racer X (played with a relaxed coolness by Matthew Fox) and Taejo (Korean heartthrob Rain) to bring Royalton down, but just as with racing, Speed finds out that not all
is what it seems.
The story is far more fleshed out than the cartoon thanks to a strong performance by John Goodman as Pops Racer. Susan Sarandon is serviceable as Speed's mom, but you can tell she's had no connection to the character and seems to be phoning it in. Christina Ricci as Trixie reminds guys of when we thought girls were cute instead of 'hot'. Paulie Litt is Speed Racer's younger brother Spritle and steals a scene or two as only a spunky kid (with his pet monkey Chim
Chim) can do.
At 136 minutes, the movie runs a little long, but is fast paced enough to keep you and the 8 year old next to you thoroughly entertained. Go, Speed Racer, go!
Speed Racer is rated PG for action, some violence, language and brief smoking.
Billy Tatum gives "Speed Racer" --- 5 Scoops.