I'll be honest- I was in an absolutely horrible mood before I watched this. Not getting into too much detail but after having a crappy week I just wanted to sit down and watch something with an instant 'wow' value, something that didn't require much thinking or analysing of plot or character traits and what not. So after some scrolling through the interwebs I happened to fall onto an anime called Redline, which came out in 2009. It's an over-the-top futuristic racing anime, priding itself on its visual presentation and the adrenaline surging action that took 5 years to make and several years later than actually planned to be released. Like I said earlier, I wanted nothing too brain taxing so I pulled up a seat, strapped myself and embraced myself for the ride... God, I hate myself for that pun! (Not as much as I do! - GiB)
Redline tells the story of JP; a talented but down on his luck racer who has always dreamed to race the Redline. Taking place every 5 years, the Redline is the toughest most dangerous race in the galaxy that happens on a different planet each time. To enter however, JP needs to win the Yellowline to qualify. He looked set to do this before his car explodes due to sabotage by the mafia. After surviving the accident JP wakes in a hospital and finds out he actually qualified. His joy is relatively short lived however when he finds out what planet the Redline is hosted on: Roboworld. Roboworld (as we find out) is a fascistic, authoritarian, dictator run military super powered planet. Which, of course, wants absolutely no part in this illegal street race and has threatened to destroy any racer that decides they want to race. That's right - space nazis frown on illegal street racing and are a little bit inclined to give the racers a warm welcome... with guns... lots and lots of guns. Can't think why the organizers thought that this would be a bad idea- I mean, pissed off space Nazis might be a turn off for some people, but hey they seem know what they're doing so who are we to question them? Despite this though, JP decides to go regardless and sets out to win the race.
What you can tell pretty much straight away from reading this, is that plot and story are not the strongest or even most important part in the movie. In fact, it is pretty bog standard to be honest. Essentially it's bare bones kind of storytelling; giving you just enough to loosely tie in the action and general lunacy that follows for the next 100 minutes or so. I would say it's lazy, but I honestly think that this was the intention the whole time. Redline wasn't created to be an in-depth plot driven story. It's not meant to make you sit down and take in every action, reaction, quotes and hidden meaning in everything that is said and done by each character. In fact they try to throw in a political unrest plot into it but it disappears never to be remembered again. I reckon they got bored of the idea and decided that it needed more insanity instead. If you want something like that then go elsewhere for all the movie cares. To be honest if something like that bothers you while watching, then you are completely missing the point of Redline.
It makes no bones that Redline isn't something to be taken too seriously. It embraces the fact that everything is over the top and in your face. Explosions are huge, men are men, women are most definitely women and the aliens are most definitely made to look like proper aliens; weird, unique and sometimes purple and gooey. The artwork really makes this work fantastically well. In fact, I'd nearly say it makes it believable somehow. The artwork is absolutely amazing, probably the best in an anime that I've seen in a long, long time. The detail and clarity in both the characters and the world is second to none. There is a massive amount of aliens in this, and each one is absolutely unique and different to one another. In fact only Soshee (JP's love interest) is the only human looking person next to JP himself! They look traditional and familiar to everything that you see in Redline. Everything is bold and highlighted and in your face, which pulls you into the insanity of what is the Redline universe. JP;s hair alone makes that abundantly obvious right away. There is no way in hell this could be done in anything but an anime. Any thoughts of a live-action would be absolutely ludicrous; because either they couldn't do it justice or that there just isn't enough money to make that possible! The action and racing is fluid and intense and has you sitting on the edge of your seat, wondering just what the hell is going to happen next. Honestly while watching it I felt like was reliving my youth playing F-Zero, with the sheer speed and intensity. Also, somehow it felt like I was watching Death Race, for the destruction, mad characters and sheer lunacy and chaos. Another thing I have to mention as well is the soundtrack; it's a nice mix of electronic/techno that keeps pace to the adrenaline rush of Redline.
Overall I've got to say- I absolutely LOVED Redline. Yes, I know you could say it's style over substance, and that the plot is lazy and at times the pacing can be quite slow and you'd be right. I'd hate you and might be inclined to murder you, but you'd be right. However, if you think that way you've completely missed the point of Redline. It makes no prejudice for what it is, it's not supposed to be taken seriously or intended to be an arthouse movie. All it wants you to do is sit back, relax and just enjoy the madness. Sometimes we need movies like that; sometimes we need to just leave your brain at home and enjoy the show. Saying that though about Redline would be insulting it. Honestly the film is cracking action that will have you highly satisfied from start to finish.
D. O Leary
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