a review by Nalini Haynes
Redline focuses on JP, a young Elvis-like man with an enormous quiff that should have its own credit, who raced cars, losing for the Mob. The opening scene felt like the pod-race on Tatooine, complete with aliens, desert, no-holds-barred competition and even a Sebulba-esque character who, predictably, used foul means to gain advantage. JP wound up in hospital, being blackmailed and written off by his fixer, Frisbee. Withdrawals from competition gave JP an opportunity to enter Redline, an illegal race in a refugee zone. Sonoshee was the pretty girl race-car driver with greater skill and determination who raced against JP. Not only were the Mob involved in race fixing, the Emperor who technically owned the refugee planet outlawed Redline, declaring war on participants and spectators alike.
I haven’t watched many racing movies but I suspect that Redline is pretty much a cookie cutter racing movie in a science fiction setting. You have the young hero, JP, and the pretty heroine Sonoshee, who are obviously going to become romantically involved. JP has to get his ‘team’ together to go to Redline, a new car has to be built by this team: queue comic duo to JP’s straight man. The competition lineup consists of uber-masculine men and a few voluptuous women wearing coats open at the front with nothing underneath or skin-tight racing outfits with necklines that plunge to below the navel, presumably being held on over their breasts with double-sided tape. The Mob are rough in looks and manners while the commentators aim for comedy.
Surprisingly this movie might pass the Bechdel test. The twin bimbo drivers talked about their queen coming and the Princess told her handmaiden what she was doing: saving the day by bringing her spaceship out of hyperspace underneath the ground, bursting free and providing a ramp to the finish line. However Redline definitely objectifies women by using them as sexualised comic relief, even having the twins’ car turn into a giant femme-bot with knickers and glowing breasts. Even Sonoshee, the romantic female lead who might usually be spared this kind of sexualised treatment in favour of picturing her innocence, is sexualised by showing close ups of her clothed bottom, then her naked breasts while she’s sitting at home alone watching TV. Later she’s in a skimpy outfit and heels while cooking dinner for herself. When driving the final race her breasts enlarged and her waist shrank as did her clothing apparently. Early on, Sonoshee was drawn and behaved innocently but an unexplained conversion occurred part-way through the movie.
Redline has dubbing, so English audio is an option. However the mixing of the soundtrack is a little off, with voices tending to be too quiet in contrast with atmospheric sound early in the movie. I turned up the volume and was then blasted in the dramatic climax, so I’d recommend either using a stereo to sound balance or opt for subtitles.
There is some swearing in Redline, including one point where Sonoshee, the heroine, surprised me by using a word I usually only hear in Deadwood.
Redline is an animated racing car movie that seems to comply with the normal tropes of that genre while throwing in some science fiction into the mix. If you enjoyed movies like Cars and don’t mind some swearing and nudity, then you’ll enjoy Redline.