review for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie on AllMovie

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)
by Andrea LeVasseur review

Taking its narrative place somewhere toward the end of the animé series, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie does read just like a longer version of an episode. Even so, its one of the smartest, entertaining, and visually dynamic animé series to make it to the big screen. The highly detailed imagery is one of the film's strongest points, capable of being appreciated by novices as well as seasoned fans of the show. The Mars future world is rendered shockingly realistic with advertising, ethnic ghettos, and drive-in theaters. All the graffiti and grime of contemporary urban settings is intrinsically mixed with technological advancements and interstellar space travel. The formulaic story takes cues from cinematic tough-guy history and is all underscored with a bittersweet romantic longing and frequent bursts of comedy. All these changes in tone could appear clumsy, but the reserved cool and cynical remarks of main character Spike Spiegel keep it within the realm of a good action comedy. That the many chase sequences and fight scenes in the third act are fueled by bop and free jazz styles also helps maintain the organic flow of things. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie does have a fairly standard science-fiction story with an insane bad guy, pseudoscientific rambling, and needless violence, but it's still a complex dramatic movie that humanizes the animé genre as it delivers the thrills.