|'Rather than having a specific focus, director Louie Psihoyos produces a series of vignettes devoted to looking at aspects of the planet which are on the decline and the species caught up in them.'|
If you dig in to Racing Extinction's IMDb page then you'll find that it's a film which has had a number of working titles. The Singing Planet relates to a part of the narrative to do with an audio archive of animals from around the globe. The Heist presumably was intended to refer dually to the film's climatic projection show and the 'stealing' of the planet's species. 6 is the most ambiguous offering, though it was probably a reference to the number of species the film focuses on, or the multiple National Geographic cameramen who photograph them.
That the rather mundane and general Racing Extinction was settled on (there's a loose link to Leilani Münter, a racing driver, late in proceedings) speaks to the fact that the film is not one which came together in the edit. Rather than having a specific focus, director Louie Psihoyos produces a series of vignettes devoted to looking at aspects of the planet which are on the decline and the species caught up in them. It's passionately angry, capturing some distressing imagery and creating a picture which should motivate individuals to make the 'one change' Psihoyos claims during the conclusion is needed from everyone.
What it isn't is a satisfying Documentary, in the vein of Psihoyos' previous offering, The Cove. The director's frequent presence on screen again, as with his last film, makes this feel like the unordered ramblings of a man with a sensible and educated passion. Many of his points are, of course, entirely correct, but that doesn't mean that they don't come across as polemical and randomly structured. Jumps from one story to the next are frequent and unsatisfying; one minute we're undercover with Psihoyos and his team at a restaurant which serves whale meat, the next we're meeting the last remaining frog of a specific species. Neither gets the time and focus it deserves.
The message is so obviously correct that the film gets away with some of its distracting non-structure. Early on an expert claims that in 100 years time we could have lost 50% of the species on the planet, which is roughly the most shocking thing to come out of a DVD for some time. Psihoyos needed to find the hook for this footage though, perhaps even to separate it over several films, or a series. The structure he opts for instead does a disservice to the important material he presents.