Redline is excellent proof that you can have too much of a good thing. Especially when you
neglect everything else in the process.
The first 10 minutes do an excellent job of letting viewers know what’s in store for
them. It’s here that the film treats us to an intense and gorgeously animated
race sequence and equally beautiful backgrounds and character models. From
there on out it’s clear that the films intent is to overwhelm the viewer with
adrenaline-filled races brought to life with mouth-watering animation and
sound. Storyline and character development are of the lowest priority.
It’s no surprise, then, that Redline sticks closely to the usual 3 act structure. We’re
first given a taste of things to come while the personalities and motivations
of the major players are established, topped off with introducing the long term
goal. The second act is all about the preparation with some rudimentary
attempts at character development while act 3 is the main attraction: a
40-minute onslaught of non-stop racing packed with over-the-top, high speed
moments and more explosions than 3 Michael Bay films put together.
Sounds good on paper. But Redline goes so overboard with its spectacle that it somehow
becomes a bit dull. It’s simply too much.
First off, there are too many characters. The main characters are pretty forgettable and
the only contestant who was somewhat cool was the established champion. The
film further hurts itself by introducing subplots and characters who aren’t
related to the race. A sizable chunk of screentime is reserved for a b-story
involving an evil government (basically space-China) that’s out to stop the
race and dig up some ancient weapons or something. Ultimately they’re only
there to cause tons of explosions and other kinds of destruction. This in a
film that’s already filled to the brim with explosions and spectacular set
This is Redline’s second excess. There is simply too much going on in the third act. A
big race alone would have made for a wonderfully thrilling climax but Redline
throws in an obligatory mafia subplot as well as the aforementioned evil
government. What it all leads to? Stuff getting blown up and more stuff getting
This wouldn’t have been so bad if there was a reason to care or even some sense of
urgency but there isn’t. All the cars
race at impossible speeds and run just fine even after taking enough damage to
wreck 10 spaceships. The result is that tension is basically nonexistent in
this film. Nobody of note dies and damage to the vehicle is shrugged off so
easily that one gets the feeling the only thing at stake is the film’s running
It’s a real pity seeing as the film is brilliantly animated and incredibly stylish. The
film had a production history of 7 long years and you can tell when watching it
that all that time was well spent in honing the stunning visuals to perfection.
It’s no exaggeration that this is a new benchmark in terms of pure animation. The
film’s many characters have detailed, instantly distinguishable models and are
fluidly animated, machines roar and rush over surfaces with incredible speed
and there’s even the occasional use of deformed animation for stylish effect
that’s very effective. The visuals in Redline are a labor of love and the best
part is that it overwhelms the senses in a way that seems difficult (perhaps
impossible) to replicate in another medium.
In the end, that makes it all the more tragic that these gorgeous visuals aren’t telling a
story worth caring about. Worse yet, its main hook (the visuals) simply can’t
be used to carry a 100-minute feature film. Some serious editing could have
reduced it to have its length and it would’ve made for a better-flowing and
much more enjoyable viewing experience.
As it is, Redline is a stunningly animated but overlong film with such incompetent
storytelling that it cannot reach its full potential. One can only hope that
first-time director Takashi Koike’s next project will be a lot more polished.
As it is, the talent is there. It simply needs to be honed and guided properly.