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Film / Speed Racer

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Pops: You think you can drive a car and change the world? It doesn't work like that!
Speed: Maybe not, but it's the only thing I know how to do and I gotta do something.

Speed Racer is a 2008 film based off of the anime series Speed Racer, directed and written by The Wachowskis. It features the titular Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) characters with their same basic personalities thrown into a racing world where corporate greed determines everything.

The film also stars Christina Ricci as Trixie, John Goodman as Pops Racer, Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer, Matthew Fox as Racer X, Roger Allam as Arnold Royalton, Benno Fürmann as Inspector Detector, Hiroyuki Sanada as Musha, Rain as Taejo Togokhan and Richard Roundtree as Ben Burns.

An outrageous visual spectacle, the movie did not attempt to make any apologies for the implausibilities or cliches of the original, instead merely using them to show insane, over-the-top brightly colored race car action sequences.


Speed Racer provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The vikings have a beehive catapult and Snake Oiler has a snake catapult.
  • Action Girl: Trixie was fairly tough in the anime, a novel concept at the time, but in the movie is much more an active partner to Speed than in the original. Even taking part in a portion of one of the races.
  • Adaptational Badass: As opposed to the original anime, Trixie is a Badass Driver who can cover for Togokahn in the Casa Cristo.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The Wachowskis managed to distill the feel of the animated Speed Racer, keeping the bright colors, but bringing it into the live action arena.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: Downplayed but Speed is shown to have been Book Dumb throughout school. This is in contrast to his anime counterpart, who was shown to be very adept and intelligent, with him and Trixie solving an Egyptian mystery through historical research.
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  • Adaptational Wimp: As evidenced by the episode "Junk Car Grand Prix," the film made Sparky less handy in a fight than the anime did.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Taejo, when Cruncher Block threatens to have his hands eaten by piranhas.
    Taejo: No, please!
  • Almost Kiss: Twice, until the end — where the trope gets parodied as Spritle and Chim-Chim interrupt it for the sake of a quip, and then it resumes.
  • Amazing Technicolor World: And how. This movie is so vibrant that some critics reported visual fatigue.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The movie seems to take place a few decades into the future, with hovercrafts, futuristic cities, and advanced car safety technology, but Ben Burns is said to have driven in the 1943 Grand Prix. Richard Roundtree, who plays Burns in the present, was born in 1942, which means even if the movie took place the year it came out, Burns would be too young to have been a driver. He could simply be much much Older Than He Looks, as he would be pushing one hundred were the movie set when it seems to be.
  • Anachronic Order: Several scenes (especially in the beginning) keep switching around between multiple points of time.
  • Animesque: It's been called 'the first live-action anime'. That's an accurate description.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Spritle (and Chim-Chim).
    • Speed was something of one to Rex.
  • Anti-Climactic Unmasking: Twisted around the viewer, since Racer X is Rex Racer, but when Speed Racer meets him on the empty track, he's played by a random guy courtesy of Magic Plastic Surgery.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Remember when Professor Frank said "Woke up in a car that was Tokyo Drifting everywhere?"
  • Ascended Extra: Mom Racer. While in the original series, she is a minor character with limited dialogue, in the movie, Susan Sarandon plays her as a strong, caring mother who provides emotional support and inspiration for Speed.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Royalton's German is totally off.
    Royalton: When I was a child, we used to say "Pänkuchen sind Liebchen!" — "Pancakes are love."
    • Also Chim Chim's "favorite TV show" doesn't sound like German as claimed by Pops.
  • A-Team Montage: The Racers building the Mach Six for the Grand Prix, intercut with Royalton and Musha's contract signing.
  • Avoid the Dreaded G Rating: The only reason for any of the cursing in the movie.
    • After Speed rejects Royalton's outrageously generous but sell-out deal, (something which became a Hannibal Lecture when he realized he wasn't getting what he wanted) 10-year-old Spritle gives Royalton the finger right when the elevators close!
    • In the final Grand Prix, when Speed reaches Jack "Cannonball" Taylor, they engage in a personal duel and Speed's Mach 6 hits the GRX several times. In one of these, Speed utters "get that weak shit off my track!" Hard to distinguish due to the crashing sounds and the engine noise, so it went uncensored anyway.
  • Awesome Aussie: Melbourne-born Kick Gurry uses his native accent as Sparky.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Your family name is Racer and you name your kids Rex and Speed?
  • Awesomeness Is a Force: Implied in the final lap of the final race, when Speed restarts the stalled Mach 6, drives so fast his taillights leave visible afterimages, overtakes every single other racer on a partial lap when starting from a standstill, smashes two of his rivals while flinging a multi-ton car around with downright balletic grace, and seemingly achieves nirvana, all on nothing but his passion for racing and determination. When he finally comes to a stop, the Mach 6's tires are melting.
  • Awesomeness Is Volatile: As seen with Awesomeness Is a Force. The Mach 6 manages to get Speed to the final and then collapses once it comes to a stop. Speed himself isn't much better, he has barely enough energy to take off his helmet. The crowd pulls him out and carries him to the winner podium. Seeing as they both reached what could be described as Speed Nirvana, they are in good shape all things considered.
  • Badass Driver: Nearly half the cast, though Speed deserves special mention when he Has his "in the zone" moment in the final race.
  • Badass Family: The Racers and extended family all apparently know how to deal out some awesome whoopass. Except Sparky.
  • Bee Bee Gun: A bee hive is used as a weapon in-race.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Speed is a good man overall, but the best way to piss him off is putting his girlfriend in peril. Best exemplified during the rally when Snake pulls off a maneuver that could have cost a disguised Trixie her life, an enraged Speed performs the same move against Snake, coming inches away from killing the terrified man before relenting.
  • Big Bad: E.P. Arnold Royalton is the main antagonist of the film.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Speed and Trixie's kiss at the end after Speed wins the Grand Prix.
  • The Big Race: Several increasingly over the top races culminating in the WRL Grand Prix.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Speed wins the Grand Prix, Royalton's cheating and corruption are exposed and he is put in prison, it is implied that the WRL will be reformed. However, Racer X has decided against revealing to his family that he is still alive.
  • Blood Sport: While there are plenty of car crashes, this is downplayed by the fact that all cars have the foam bubble "Kwik-Save" system installed, and any devices that are designed for or can be used to intentionally harm other racers, such as the Spearhook, are illegal. This makes it probably the most plausible bloodsport in fiction.
  • Bond One-Liner: Delivered by Pops Racer after dispatching a ninja:
    Trixie: Was that a ninja?
    Pops: More like a nonja.
  • Book Dumb: As a young child, Speed was so obsessed about automobile racing that he spoke about little else; he even filled out a multiple choice test's answer sheet so that the dots read GO REX GO. He later admits he probably would not have finished high school without Trixie's help.
  • Broken Pedestal: Speed, when he learns that the Grand Prix is always fixed and several of the racers he looked up to are nothing but corporate shills whose "wins" were always planned.
    Speed: Mr Burns? The '43 Prix. know you were going to win?
    Burns: Y'know, everybody thought that me and Stickleton hated each other. Funny, ain't it?
  • Bullet Time: It was written and directed by the Wachowskis. Think about that.
  • Call-Back: Speed attempting to leave his younger brother and father behind in an exact mirror of what happened with Rex when Speed was a child.
  • Canon Foreigner: Royalton, Togokhan, and Ben Burns were among the characters specifically created for the film.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Speed and Trixie tell a fib to help Racer X and Inspector Detector by racing in the race that killed Rex.
    Spritle: Look!
    Pops: I'm not falling for that.
    Spritle: It's Speed!
    Pops: Speed's skiing!
    Spritle: ...then who's driving the Mach 5?!
    [On the television, the Mach 5 roars up the road. Cue an Oh, Crap! from Pops.]
    Pops: Oh, no...
  • Car Fu: Taken Up to Eleven. Also actually called such in the video game.
  • Catchphrase: Trixie's "Cool beans."
  • Cement Shoes: Cruncher Block wanted to use this method on Taejo, but he decided to use piranhas to try and eat Taejo's hand.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: This trope is spelled out verbatim by the judge in the Racing Chronicle issue about Royalton's conviction and sentencing.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: All of the "defensive modifications" on Speed's car come into proper use. Except for the Homing Bird.
  • Color-Coded Characters: by Word of God in the DVD Extras.
    • Speed — Blue
    • Pops — Red
    • Trixie — Pink
    • Racer X — Black
    • Taejo — White (really, the whole Togokahn family)
    • Spritle — Yellow
    • Royalton — Purple
    • Mom — Green
    • Sparky — Orange
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Ninjas infiltrate the hotel where Taejo, Racer X and Speed are staying to take their team out of commission. The first ninja, a stealthy assassin, is deftly successful at silently drugging Taejo, while the second somewhat annoys Racer X. Supported when the third makes trouble for Speed, Sparky, Spritle and Chim-Chim, but then subverted as he is comically relieved of his pants by Spritle and Chim-Chim, then trounced by Pops Racer, who derides the assailant as a "non-ja".
    "Terrible what passes for a ninja these days."
  • Context-Sensitive Button: Speed has one button for each of the Mach 5's various tricks, however they're each shown capable of performing a variety of very precision maneuvers. For example, the "jump" button may deploy all four jump feet to hop over someone, or it might deploy just the left two to flip to the right, like how 'tap','double tap', 'press' and 'press and hold' can do different functions in a video game but with more options than the ones mentioned above.
  • Continuity Nod: To the original series and the original Japanese version of the show; the end credits music is a remix of the "Speed Racer" theme song, and intermixed with the remix is dialogue from the original show and lyrics from the original Mach-A-Go-Go theme song.
  • Cool Car: Every car in the movie, pretty much, but the Mach 5 remains the coolest.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Royalton, of course.
    • Hell, any of the WRL sponsors qualify. They've been fixing races for the benefit of the stock market for at least 48 years.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • Peter Fernandez, Speed's original voice actor, appears as a racing announcer at Thunderhead.
    • Corinne Orr - Trixie's voice actress - appears as the race announcer at the Grand Prix.
  • Crush Filter: Speed and Trixie have a Love at First Sight one when they first lay eyes on each other as grade-schoolers.
  • Dawn of an Era: Ben Burns even says so when Speed manages to not only expose Royalton but manages to break speed records to win the race from last place. In front of the entire world an Independent Team, Car, and Racer blew out all of the Big 5 to win the largest race in the world. By winning, Speed demolished the race rigging and destroyed one of the biggest companies ever.
  • Destination Defenestration: Pops throws the ninja who infiltrated the Racers' hotel room out of their window.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Several times during the film, but especially during the final race, where Speed literally becomes the race and the track dissolves into, well, Nirvana.
  • The Dreaded: Criminals, terrorists and other racers alike fear Racer X, "The Harbinger of Boom".
  • Epic Race: The Casa Cristo 5000.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: See Badass Family.
  • Evil Brit: E.P. Arnold Royalton. Interestingly, he has a semi-realistic working class London accent, not the usual "posh" evil accent. This might suggest that he is from a poor background. If his speech about building his own computer out of scraps is true, then he definitely came from a poor family. His actor, Roger Allam, was born in London.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Just look at how Speed acts in the opening scenes—how does anyone miss such obvious signs of ADHD? Or worse?
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Oh Trixie...
  • Faux Affably Evil: Despite being warm and friendly while initially courting the Racer family, after Speed rejects his offer, Royalton reveals his true personality by giving Speed a "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Fighting Fingerprint: Played with. Speed suspects Racer X of being his Long-Lost Relative Rex, because Racer X drives in the same distinctive way Rex did.
  • The Film of the Series: Of Speed Racer.
  • Fingore: Cruncher Block attempts to have his piranhas bite of Taejo, but it doesn't work out as Racer X is able to rescue him. One of his henchmen ends up having his finger eaten in his attempt to save them.
  • Flashback:
    • A good bit during the first race, as Speed and family recall pivotal moments in their lives.
    • Another during the final race, as Speed remembers his interactions with his friends and family, allowing him to race for the pure love of the sport, which causes him to essentially transcend reality and complete an entire lap in mere seconds, winning the race.
  • Floating Advice Reminder: The hero has such a moment towards the end.
  • Foreshadowing: Inspector Detector asks Racer X if he really wants to be at the Racer house for the attempt at recruiting Speed. Racer seems unusually emotional about it. We learn later that Racer X is Rex, Speed's older brother who everyone believes died years before in a racing crash.
  • Gosh Dangit To Heck: Averted; there's a moderate amount of cursing ("ass" is said a lot; there's both a in-movie Sound Effect Bleeped and entirely uncensored "shit") and Spritle even flipped Royalton once. Yet it's still rated PG.
  • Gratuitous French: One of the Casa Cristo sportscasters sometimes peppers his speech with French words.
  • Green Screen: Was filmed almost entirely on green screen to give it an anime-style effect.
  • Groin Attack:
    • Taejo delivers one to Cruncher Block while disguised as Horuko during the last leg of the Casa Cristo.
    • Spritle does this during the mob fight.
  • Happily Married: Mom and Pops Racer. Pops went so far as to say marrying his best friend was the most important thing he'd ever done in his life, above and beyond his sons.
  • Happy Ending: With kiss included. But then, see Bitter Sweet Ending.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Taejo decides to honor his word and turn over incriminating evidence to imprison Royalton after being inspired by Speed's incredible win of the grand prix.
  • Here We Go Again!: Said word-for-word by the the Grey Ghost towards the end of the film when Speed Racer catches up to him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The female member of the Barbarian team (y'know, the ones that were bribed with furs?) is attempting to launch a beehive via built-in catapault into Taejo's car, but a quick side bump from Speed sends the giant honeycomb straight into the air, and back into the driver's seat.
    • Royalton fits Cannonball's car with a spearhook over his protests, just in case he might need it. When Cannonball gets desperate enough to use it against Speed, Speed manages to jump their cars near a race camera, clearly showing the spearhook is coming from Cannonball's car, not only ruining Cannonball's career but Royalton's since he made the car and would have approved its installation.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Downplayed example, as the series always focused on humans, but in the series, the Mach 5 was constantly called the fastest car in the world, and the original Japanese series was named for it instead of the driver. Here, there's nothing stated to be particularly special about it, instead focusing far more on Speed's skill as a driver.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: All through the movie. There are images of people's heads traveling across the screen with the new scene unscrolling behind them. The scene immediately before the Grand Prix is one over a minute long with the good guys, the bad guys, and the Racer family all sliding across the screen as Ben Burns declares "This is not a race. This is a showdown." In a case of Book-Ends, right after the race, Racer X gets one of his old face, his doctors, and his new face, to explain to the audience how he pulled off his mask when Speed (would otherwise have correctly) identified him as his brother, Rex.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Almost all the cars in the Casa Cristo have them (especially the Barbarians), even the "defensive" modifications made to Team Togokhan (Racer X, Speed, and Taejo) could be quite dangerous.
  • Ironic Echo: Royalton "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Speed gets one in the finale as he uses sheer Heroic Willpower to come up from behind
    "You ready to throw away your toys?! Are you ready to become a real race car driver!?"
  • Karma Houdini: Ben Burns was just as crooked as the other racing champions, but it looks like he'll never have to answer for it. Though given how he cheered Speed on and declared it to be a whole new world after he won Grand Prix, it's entirely likely he was never happy with the situation in the first place.
  • Large Ham: The whole cast, with the exception of Susan Sarandon, who played the wholesome Mom Racer. Even the most negative critic liked Roger Allam's over-the-top villainy.
  • Leitmotif: Virtually the entire soundtrack is remixes of the anime theme.
  • Live-Action Adaptation
  • Long Lost Sibling: Intentionally subverted by Racer X, who takes off his mask to prove to Speed he's not actually Rex Racer. But he is.
  • Loophole Abuse: Taejo's sister uses this to get Speed into the Grand Prix. Ordinarily you'd need to win an entry certificate, which Speed technically did not, but since he helped Taejo win the team rally and Taejo declined, he can claim the spot.
  • Love at First Punch: Played with. Speed first notices Trixie after she punches out the Alpha Bitch on his behalf.
  • Loved Ones Montage: During the Grand Prix at the finale of the live action Speed Racer film, Speed's Heroic Second Wind after restarting the Mach 6 is accompanied by flashbacks to his discussions with his friends and family throughout the film, mixed with cuts to each of them watching in pride as he comes from behind to take the lead for the second time in the race.
  • Machine Empathy: Rex teaches Speed to "drive, not steer" by listening to the feel of the car. Speed later uses this ability to intuitively jump-start the Mach 6 in the middle of the final Grand Prix.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Racer X aka Rex Racer.
  • Mega-Corp: Royalton Industries is the premiere maker of T-180 race cars, and is headed by Corrupt Corporate Executive Royalton.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": An unusual version in that the emotion and reason for the Oh, Crap! is virtually different for the different factions as Speed shows up at the final race.
  • Meta Twist: The identity of Racer X — it's a You Should Know This Already if you are familiar with the anime. he's Speed's older brother Rex Racer, who is believed dead by everyone.
  • Montages: Lots of them, generally woven into the various action scenes. This allows the Action Prologue to ground us in the entire family's history; and, later, Speed's defiance of Royalton's Monologuing is made all the more hollow because we've already seen that the good guy loses.
    • The film is actually a pretty good study on well-handled exposition. Infodumps are done visually, essentially via the use of Cutaway Gags, and with Idiosyncratic Wipes (often involving the face of the character being exposited about) to lead both into and out of the cut-away.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The appropriately sexy Emile Hirsch as the hunky hero Speed.
    • Matthew Fox as Racer X.
    • Rainnote  as Taejo.note 
  • Ms. Fanservice: Trixie. She is played by Christina Ricci after all.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: When facing a ninja, Racer X whips out a length of cloth, whips it around dramatically, then ties it around his face to act as a mask.
  • My Card: Inspector Detector attempts to give one to Pops, but he declines.
    Inspector Detector: If you change your mind...!
    Pops: Keep your card, Chief Inspector.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: When Rex left the family to fight the corporations, Pops viewed it as a betrayal and told him not to come back, which he regrets to this day. When Speed decides to do the same, Pops explains this and promises Speed that he can always come back home.
  • Mythology Gag: In the anime, Racer X always holds himself back so his younger brother can win the race. The movie does this backwards during the opening action sequence, when Speed deliberately loses to Rex's Racing Ghost. Speed knows that no one else could beat his time, so he is giving Rex immortality, in a sense.
  • Neck Lift: Taejo chokes Cruncher Block after his Groin Attack on the Togokhan plane.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Speed and Racer X both have their fangirls, but everyone was surprised at just how sexy Inspector Detector turned out with his styling specs. (He is a German Johnny Depp.)
  • Non-Action Guy: Sparky. Spritle and Chim-Chim win more fights than he does (to wit: they work together to de-pants a ninja, while Chim-Chim later gets to hit a guy with a wrench).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Roger Allam, the actor who plays bad guy Arnold Royalton, bears an astonishing resemblance to British writer and critic Christopher Hitchens, right down to the accent. Many reviewers have commented on it.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: The cars all have a system called "Kwik-Save" that puts them in a protective foam bubble when they crash. Snake Oiler has a parachute. A failure in this system was blamed for the death of Rex Racer.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Racer family when Rex's death is announced.
    • Taejo when Cruncher Block nearly subjects him to the piranhas.
    • Cruncher Block when Racer X damages the aquarium tank holding his piranhas.
    • Pops says "Oh, no..." when he realizes that Speed is driving in the Casa Cristo.
    • After the non-ja is pantsed by Spritle & Chim-Chim, he bumps into and tries to attack Pops, who easily catches his fist and pulls him into a hold. This is when he notices that Pops won the Greco-Roman Wrestling State Championship.
    Non-ja: Uh-oh.
    • Cruncher Block is surprised when he realizes that Horuko is actually Taejo in disguise while on the Togokhan plane.
    • Speed has one (combined with a Heroic BSoD) right as they entered the cave where Rex died. He quickly recovers, though.
    • The Racer family when Snake Oiler pulls a gun on Speed.
    • Snake Oiler when Speed outsmarts him and sends him off of the cliff in the Casa Cristo.
    • Spritle when Cannonball Taylor uses his spearhook on Speed.
    • Every single shot of Royalton's face from the moment the spearhook is revealed on-camera until the end of the film.
  • Oil Slick: Used by Snake Oiler during the Casa Cristo rally.
  • Older Than They Look: Christina Ricci was 27 when she played the role of Trixie, while Emile Hirsch was 23. Anyone watching would think he's the older of the two.
  • Papa Wolf: Harm one of Pops's sons, and you will be sent flying through a window. Just ask the non-ja.
  • Parting Words Regret: Between Pops and Rex, before Rex was presumed killed in the crash.
  • Power Trio: Team Togokhan is a With a Friend and a Stranger trio, except that only Racer X knows this for a fact, given the Secret Identity. Speed does pick up on how well he and X sync together, leading him to suspect that he might actually be Rex Racer.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ben Burns gets it when Speed shows up to the final race. "Holy sh[*bleep*]!" The Double Take his fellow commentator Cass Jones gives him is just icing on the cake.
    • Speed gets one (uncensored!) that also doubles as a Badass Boast during the final race:
      "Get that weak shit off my track."
  • Pretty in Mink: Horuko shows up to help the Speed family, coming straight from the opera, and wearing a white dress with a white fox fur wrap.
  • Product Placement: Real advertisements appear among the fake ones, including SeaWorld and Petrobras on a blimp at Fuji and Orange Glo on a crewman's jumpsuit at Thunderhead. In the scene where the Royalton janitor calls to report a supposed mouse problem, his Motorola walkie-talkie gets a close-up.
    • Petrobras even gets a fully 3D-rendered car, although it plays no relevant part in the film. The car was actually custom built to feature in Petrobras promotional events back in the day (and it actually raced, unlike the Mach 5 which was just a prop). In the video game, players can drive said car (and it is one of the fastest).
  • Punch Catch: Happens to the non-ja when he takes a swing at Pops.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Royalton gives one to Speed when he refuses to sign a contract to race for him, serving up a generous helping of Large Ham as he explains how the sport of racing is really nothing more than a corporate tool for financial gain. The big players come together to negotiate the finishing order, and all the "smart" racers play along for the big paychecks and generous perks. The crowning moment comes when he outs Speed's childhood hero as just another corporate shill.
    Royalton: (derisive laugh) You poor, naïve chump. I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that load of sickening schmaltz, and I'm going to give you a bit of an education, and at the end of it — if you're smart — you'll thank me.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • The Japanese dub of the film brings back three of the original voice actors, albeit in different roles. Kenji Utsumi, the voice of Inspector Detector in the original series, voices Pops Racer; Kiyoshi Kobayashi (the original voice of Mr. Black) is the voice of Tetsuo Togokhan; and Katsuji Mori (the original Speed Racer) voices Ben Burns.
    • In the Latin American Spanish dub, Arturo Mercado (the original voice actor of Speed Racer) voices Tetsuo Togokhan.
  • The Reveal: Subverted when Racer X reveals his identity to Speed after The Crucible and Speed learns that Racer X is not his brother, Rex Racer, as he had suspected and then double subverted when it is revealed that Rex Racer faked his death and had Magic Plastic Surgery as the ultimate disguise to fight against corruption as Racer X.
  • Rousing Speech: When Speed loses all hope of ever redeeming the crooked sport of racing, Racer X helps restore him to Wide-Eyed Idealist form.
    Racer X: It doesn't matter if racing never changes — what matters is if we let racing change us.
  • Rule of Cool: The entire film runs on this. It knows its adapting an anime and embraces that fact with bright visuals and flashy and over-the-top racing that would make REDLINE blush. The movie makes the laws of physics its bitch.
  • Rule of Fun: Ditto.
  • Save the Day, Turn Away: Racer X is really Rex, who faked his death to assume the Racer X identity. He decides to not to reveal his identity to keep his family safe. X tells Inspector Detector that while hiding the truth may have been a mistake, it is a mistake he will have to live with.
  • Scantron Picture: At the beginning of the movie, the young Speed fills the bubbles on a test to read GO REX GO, prompting his teacher to call his mom in for a meeting.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Inspector Detector threatens to shut down the Grand Prix when Royalton tries to deny Speed's Loophole Abuse. Royalton complains about the cost, but Inspector Detector sticks to his guns, confident that Royalton will fold.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mr. Royalton, lampshaded by Pops Racer after a whirlwind tour of his corporate headquarters.
    Royalton: What's wrong Mr. Racer?
    Pops: To be honest Royalton, I'm feeling more intimidated than impressed. This kind of company scares me. People like you have way too much money. When someone gets that kind of money, they start thinking that the rules everyone else plays by don't mean squat to them.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Royalton's backers leave him behind when Speed exposes his corrupt methods.
  • Seen It All: Pops. "Terrible what passes for a ninja these days."
  • Self-Made Man: Royalton if you believe his claims regarding his beginnings.
  • Serial Escalation: Oh hell yes.
  • Serious Business: Even more so than in the anime. Auto racing is the most popular and most noble sport in the world, there's coverage in multiple languages (which in Real Life doesn't happen at most sporting events that aren't the Olympics, admittedly including Formula One), and the outcomes of races have far-reaching effects on the global economy. This is because the "Big Five" corporations fix races to drive up or down the price of their own stock as suits their own plans. If Royalton's largesse is any indication, those Big Fives do have a major effect on the global economy.
  • Setting Update: The film moves from The '60s to a futuristic Retro Universe, way wackier and out of this world than the original series.
  • Shout-Out: The Crucible race has plenty of shout outs to the original series, even giving Speed an excuse to wear a neckerchief (so he can use it to cover his mouth during the desert run). At the end of the race he jumps out and poses like in the original anime intro.
    • And the plot of that part of the movie was similar to the beginning of the series.
    • The auto-jacks make the exact same sound they did in the anime and work the exact same way (see Context-Sensitive Button above).
    • Not related to the original series, one of the founders of automobile racing Royalton names, Benjamin Braddock, is named after the protagonist of The Graduate.
    • Most of the named characters, even minor ones, are named after characters from the anime. Cruncher Block and Snake Oiler were both one-shot villains in the series.
    • One of the Vikings screams "KROM!" as a battlecry.
    • The "non-ja" has a P-chan dangle on his car keys.
    • One of the racers who died in The Crucible is named Cyrus the Virus O'Man.
  • Signature Style: some Wachowski trademarks:
    • Exposition/Action montage, first seen in The Matrix Reloaded, used everywhere here.
    • The Punch Parry, first seen in the Morpheus/Smith bathroom brawl in The Matrix, used by Racer X against his Nonja. Twice, in a Oner shot. Which is impressive when you hear DVD Commentary from Laurence Fishburne about how they had to cut immediately after they accomplished that stunt, because both he and Hugo Weaving were yelping in pain.
    • Bullet Time, of course.
  • Slow-Motion Drop: Mom drops a glass of wine when Rex Racer's death is announced on the news in a Flash Back.
  • Smug Snake: Snake Oiler, Speed's primary rival throughout the Casa Cristo 5000.
  • Spiked Wheels: The Femme Fatale headhunters have these, which can even be remote controlled to swordfight the shields installed on the Mach 5.
  • Spiritual Successor: The video game is the closest thing we'll get to F-Zero on the Wii and DS.
  • Stock Scream: When Spritle and Chim-Chim are racing through Royalton Industries.
  • Stripperific: Despite playing the hero's loyal love interest, Christina Ricci's Trixie tends to dress like a femme fatale. This is most notable during her date in the Mach 5 with Speed. That red dress...
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The film has loads and loads of gratuitous explosions, but the whole movie is built on rule of cool and car-fu so no one really cares.
  • Technobabble: One of the DVD Bonus Content clips is about nothing but the cars themselves, and quickly degenerates into this since the cars (and physics) have nothing to do with Real Life.
  • That Man Is Dead: Racer X chose not to reveal himself as Rex to his family, even telling Speed that his brother is truly dead.
  • Theme Naming: The "Headhunters" (teams bribed by Cruncher Block to take out Team Togokhan) are the "Flying Foxes" (Femme Fatales), "Semper Fibre" (dressed as G.I.s), and "Thor-Axine" (Vikings). And then there's Snake Oiler...
  • Throwing the Fight: Many of the races are fixed. A good half of the racers are there just to deliberately sacrifice themselves in order to stop the ones not playing along.
  • Token Good Teammate: Horuko is appalled when her father and brother trick the Racer family into helping them. To make up for it, she goes to the Racer family and gives them Taejo's automatic invitation to the Grand Prix.
  • Training from Hell: What Royalton puts his drivers through.
  • Trophy Room: Shelves of trophies are seen in the living room.
  • Visual Pun: The vertically integrated production line at Royalton is literally vertical.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • On the final lap of the Grand Prix...
      Royalton: STOOOP HIIIM!!!!!!!
    • Snake Oiler gets one earlier, when he tries and fails to send Speed off an icy, narrow mountain pass.
  • Wacky Racing: Courses that would be at home in F-Zero or Hot Wheels? Check. Themed racing teams, including one of barbarians paid in furs? Check. Cars covered in special weapons and improbable technology? Check.
  • Weaponized Car:
    • All the cars have auto-jacks which allow them to hop around the track. There's also the illegal spearhook, an extendable clamp mounted on the undercarriage that grabs a nearby car and keeps it from driving off. This is mostly used for a Taking You with Me, since it's pretty hard to drag someone into an accident without ending up in it, too. In the final race, this backfires on Cannonball Taylor since he still wants to win the race, so Speed is eventually able to break free and expose him as a cheater.
    • The Casa Cristo goes all out. Most of the contestants have weapons of some kind: Epic Flails, tire spikes, etc. The Mach 5 gets saw blades mounted to the front, though Speed only uses them to disable the tire spikes of other racers. This is technically illegal, but the rules are so loosely enforced that at times it seems like the race commentators are intentionally lampshading it.
    • Racer X has numerous machine guns on his vehicle when rescuing Taejo.
    • Cruncher Block's big rig has holes for the people in the cab to shoot out of and a missile launcher in the grill.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: "[Racing is] the only thing I know how to do, and I gotta do something."
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Put into play during the Crucible when Snake Oiler, foiled in his attempts to beat Speed, pulls out a pistol and opens fire on him. This is obviously cheating, so he would have been disqualified even if Speed hadn't sent him flying off the cliff.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Speed. After he realizes how dirty the sport is (thanks to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech) he's reminded by Racer X that it doesn't matter, so long as the dirt doesn't rub off. In the end, Speed decides to make racing fit his ideal. He apparently succeeded, as he inspired everyone after he won.
    Ben Burns: It's a whole new world, baby! It's a whole new world!
    Inspector Detector: This will change everything.
    Racer X: It already has.
  • Wingding Eyes: When the Semper-Fiber team is bribed with a Briefcase Full of Money, the team leader gets dollar signs in his eyes.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Taejo Togokahn offers to turn over incriminating evidence if Racer X and Speed help his team win the Casa Cristo 5000. They do, which causes Togokahn's stock to skyrocket, and he leaves them empty-handed.
  • Wraparound Background: Used in the most obvious way possible, on both sides of the car, with a bike that rings it's bell every time it passes.
  • Xanatos Gambit: As noted in Serious Business, a company may intentionally drive down the value of its own stock if it can gain some other benefit in doing so. Naturally if this plan fails, and something else happens, they still benefit.


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