Film #8: REDLINE
3 out of 5 stars
Let’s get this out onto the table immediately… REDLINE is an absolute feast for the eyes. Written by Katsuhito Ishii (FUNKY FOREST) and directed by Takeshi Koike (THE ANIMATRIX). The film centers on a deadly racing tournament held every five years and the reckless daredevil driver who wants to win it. Truthfully, as engaging as the story is, it’s really the animation style that steals the show. Hyper-kinetic and sublimely surreal, REDLINE takes a minute or two of viewing in order for your eyes (and mind) to adjust, but once it does, it’s like visual LSD. Lines bend, perspectives shift, and the film’s reality itself gets bent and folded like cinematic origami. Comparisons to The Wachowski’s SPEED RACER and Paul Bartel’s DEATH RACE 2000 are inevitable, but Koike manages to keep the film coherent – albeit with a simple story - despite its visual insanity. That said, the film does have a few anime clichés and it ends rather suddenly. But, let’s be real… this flick is ALL about the visuals and REDLINE delivers those in spades. The first act is mostly setup with a mind-bending prelim race opening the show. The second act… is basically a “gearing up” sequence which establishes conflicts and cements viewer loyalties. The final reel of the film is one long race and Koike really ups the ante making the action even more kinetic (if that’s possible). Things do get a little surreal in REDLINE and audiences that don’t enjoy that should look elsewhere. But if you like that sort of thing (and I do), then this is recommended for you, especially if you’re an anime fan and/or someone into “hallucinogenic” adventures… if you get my drift.