Redline has been hyped in the fan community as "the second coming of Akira" — supposedly the next BIG anime flick to possibly cross over into regular pop culture and become a household name for movie lovers in the West. It is not. It is instead the second coming of Cannonball Run. Not that this is a bad thing, it just is.
I'll be honest with you: I went into watching Redline with the preconceived notion that it would be pretty lame. I expected some decent animation, but lousy everything else (plot, characters, action, etc.). And in the end I was actually pleasantly surprised. No, Redline is not the second coming of Akira, nor is it the next best thing to Ninja Scroll or Cowboy Bebop, but it is surprisingly fun. For some reason the character designs rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning, but after a little while I was able to get past them and just enjoy this movie for what it was: a techno-pumping, eye-fucking, speed-balling, pulse-blasting, galactic race that cranks your heartbeat and adrenaline to "hallucinating and freaking out meth-head" levels. It will NOT challenge your brain any — well not in any sophisticated ways, but it may make you motion sick if you're a pussy.
Before I go any further I must make something clear: I did not LOVE Redline. I thought it was worth a watch, but I cannot see myself sitting down to it again (except to maybe show somebody just how fast and furious a car racing movie can be, and for that I'll just fast forward to the last half hour). A lot of time and love was poured into it by an obvious gearhead, but the lack of any real drama or story hinders this thing something fierce. And the characters are bland and uninteresting. And it acts like an unofficial sequel to Heavy Metal more than anything like Akira or Ninja Scroll. And it's as dumb as a box of rocks. Man, it's just soooooo stupid...
Anyway, Redline goes a little something like this: The sport of cross country rally racing is alive and well in the future, and apparently it's a huge hit with aliens too. One of the finest racers in the universe, "Sweet" JP, is in it for the glory, but his manager keeps making him lose his races near the finish line because he's funded by the mob, and they just want to use JP as a way to rig bets (they have him start slow, then come up from behind to either first or second, then lose, over and over and over again... because that's exactly how betting works. At least it is when the only people placing bets are as stupid as a bowl of cold oatmeal). Oh, and the manager makes JP lose by BLOWING UP HIS CAR with an explosive he's placed on it in case JP forgets his place and goes for the win. Every race. Every goddamn race JP's car blows up ('cause he's stupid and keeps going for the win). And nobody catches on. Sure they make mention that JP's been arrested for race fixing in the past, but he's apparently right back at it as soon as he's out of the slammer, and he's never caught again. Just dumb.
Okay, so we start off with JP (who looks like a poor man's skinny Elvis) and rival driver Sonoshee "Cherry Boy Hunter" McLaren (who looks like a green-haired Haruka from FLCL) fighting tooth and nail for the prize in the giant race known as the Yellowline, along with deviant assholes from across the universe in souped-up, weaponized, speedy machines of their own. This opening event is kinetic, insane, and something pretty amazing to witness, but it's over soon enough with JP's manager (under the mafioso's eye) being forced to blow up his buddy's classically inspired racing machine just as Sonoshee and he were neck in neck at the finish line.
After the crash, JP's lost faith in racing, and he's about to quit altogether when reporters burst into his hospital room to inform him that he has still qualified for the ultimate racing crown — the Redline Tournament held once every 5 years — due to two veterans dropping out after finding out where the course for this Redline race would take them. That would be Roboworld. Everyone shits their britches when they hear this, except JP. He's got one more shot at glory, and he's gonna take it!
Why is Roboworld bad, you ask? Well, doesn't it SOUND unoriginal and lame? That's scary enough! But past the pathetic nom de plume Roboworld is the home of a militaristic fascist government that LOATHES outsiders, and upon hearing that their home world has been chosen for the Redline (against their wishes), the president and heads of the military of Roboworld have threatened to blow the tar out of any racer, mechanic, or spectator who comes to their planet to participate. I'm telling you! It's Cannonball Run the Anime... Only the lead character is NO Burt Reynolds. He's not even a Dom DeLuise.
As you can imagine, soon all the brave illegal racers all gather, and under threat of death they all go bananas on the course. Explosions, lasers, tanks, planes, missiles, Tetsuo-like giant blobs of bioweaponry, and techno-music abound! KA-BOOOOM! SCREEEEEEEECH! PEW! PEW! PEW! HUMMINA HUMMINA!
The two races featured in this flick make up more than half its total runtime, and they don't disappoint. They are some of the most insane and awesome examples of "speed captured on film" ever displayed, animated or not. You FEEL the g-forces on the drivers when they punch the NOS (to a ridiculous, but fun, degree), your heart does beat faster as two road warriors battle for the finish line, and your knuckles turn white while experiencing the zig-zagging hair-pinned turns and flips that the Redliners get caught up in. It is indeed quite exhilarating. Quite verily. But not much else.
Other than that paper thin plot (racers compete on war world because they tough, yo!), I have to comment on the techno soundtrack. I swear to Satan that it's just a 5 second loop of the same synthed drum beat for the full hour and forty minute runtime... Techno really grates on my ears at the best of times, but here it's just plain annoying. A good punk rock music score would have done WONDERS for my impression of the finished product, but alas... earwax.
So, it's fun (when they're actually racing), it's campy (think of the goofiest aliens in Heavy Metal, and put them in ludicrous flying and driving machines), it's visually quite amazing (mostly all hand drawn races, with no real shitty CGI that I could remember), and it's dumb (like your mother), but it's also worth a look, especially if you have a 50+ inch TV and a good surround sound system. In the future though, when I have to choose between this and Cannonball Run, I'll be choosing the Ball. Cannonball.
Holy Jenna Malonee! This is THE greatest racin' movie EVAH, whores! It's got it all: fast cars, fast women, cool protagonists, and the most ultimate mothafuckin' course you've ever seen! On a WAR PLANET! Hee hee heeee! What more could you want?! It's like Deathrace 2000 fucked Cannonball Run, and then got impregnated again with Oban Star Racers, and it's mental but awesome offspring was REDLINE!
It's fast, it's furious, it's gone in 60 seconds like a ronin in a French connection! It will BLOW. YOUR. Teeny tiny MIND! Go out, G, buy it now. Thank me later.
Oooookay, so yeah, there's apparently this hyper-violent Japanese animation movie about a bunch of retarded car racers in the future who drive around and blow shit up. The Rossman tried to force me into watching it with the blackmail material he has on me, but I just said "Fuck him!" Do your worst, Rossman! I'm not playing your games anymore. I'm out. You lose. You don't have the guts. I call your bluff.
Notes From The Rossman: Angry Amy peed in the Vice President of Marketing's coffee on July 28th, just before his meeting with the prospective clients from Classic Latex Inc. He was heard to have commented that the coffee tasted "sour."