One of the few flaws with Speed Racer is the water in the tank of gangster trailer piranhas inexplicably maintaining equilibrium in the midst of all that rollicking mountain action.
Not that I think it’s anything but intentional. It’s just another specifically styled visual in a movie bursting with them. The problem with this one is it seems to stick out to people, a noticeable hyperquirk among innumerable hyperquirks of equal or greater idiosyncrasy. But that’s the bread and butter of this movie–doing what hasn’t been done, in the most entertaining, psy-pop-art fashion possible at the leading edge of technology and cinematic mastery.
As alien and overwhelming as Speed Racer’s style may seem at first (the unexpectedly bewildering opening minutes flummoxed me so), once you give yourself over to the sure and capable hands of the Wachowskis, once you relinquish your faulty expectations of what ‘should’ be on screen and start meeting the movie where it lives (a realm not of what it isn’t but of what it is, if you follow) then you can open your senses to something new. And maybe you’ll find it a natural place to be.
Take for example at 1:53:04 or so, during the moguls at the Grand Prix, when for a moment the narration describes wild action while our eyes see see a mundane slo-mo jump. I remember in my theater seat feeling a brief twinge of What! What’s this you’re wasting my time with, this essentially static shot? Get back to the movie, this is taking too long.
I needn’t have worried, because the movie quickly obliges with a gorgeous piece of outlandish action that culminates in a split-second of a screen on the screen, on which we see a car flying out of control through the air and crashing into the screen. Crashing into itself, as it were.
So quickly it happens, you wouldn’t even know it’s happening, unless you are paying the sort of attention Speed Racer has required you to pay. The movie in effect re-trains you to be able to watch it, via a kaleidoscopic blur of images and an overlapping weave of narrative that breaks down your preconceptions and replaces them with a new way of seeing, where things happen on the periphery of the viewer’s awareness, so fast they’re subliminal, or so close up they almost can’t be seen, or almost off the edge of the screen.
I think I’ll go watch it.