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With: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall, Giovanni Ribisi, Delroy Lindo
Written by: Scott Rosenberg, based on a 1974 screenplay by H.B. "Toby" Halicki
Directed by: Dominic Sena
MPAA Rating: PG-13/Unrated
Running Time: 117
Date: 03/18/2013

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Watching Gone in 60 Seconds, I couldn't help thinking of my dad, whoonly asks two things of a movie; that they blow up some cars and thatthey not blow up the really nice cars. Gone in 60 Seconds wasostensibly made just for him. It's a movie about car lovers in the sameway that the superb High Fidelity was a movie for record lovers. Thedifference is that Gone in 60 Seconds takes away High Fidelity'scharacter development and clever dialogue, and adds thievery and explosions.

Strangely, both movies share the same screenwriter, Scott Rosenberg. While he shares credit with three others on High Fidelity (including John Cusack), he is the lone author of Gone in 60 Seconds (based on H.B. "Toby" Halicki's 1974 movie of the same name). Simple math would lead one to deduce that not much of Rosenberg's work remains on the finished product of High Fidelity because the writing on Gone in 60 Seconds is particularly bad.

Here's an example. Early in the film, Giovanni Ribisi steals a Porsche from an indoor car dealership. "Let me get my tool," he says as he opens his trunk and produces a brick with which he will smash the window. That's pretty funny, but then another character pipes in, "that's not a tool! That's a brick!" Why in the world would that second line have been left in? Are we really so stupid that we need such a simple joke explained to us?

Ribisi is stealing the Porsche for a bad guy who needs to deliver 50 prime cars to a dealer in South America. But Ribisi fails and his brother, Nicolas Cage, a retired car thief (the best in the business) is reluctantly called in to finish the job and save his brother's life. "Reluctant" is the key word, so that we know he's really a good guy underneath. Cage assembles his old crew from his "boosting" days, including Robert Duvall and recent Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie (with blonde dreadlocks), and they're off to steal 50 cars in one night. And Delroy Lindo plays a cop hot on Cage's trail.

Gone in 60 Seconds was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, who continues to fascinate me. He's a gaudy circus showman, giving people stripped-down and artificially inflated versions of what they want. He's also the only producer-as-autuer working today, hiring easily malleable directors to do his dirty work, while the vision is all his. This movie happens to be directed by Dominic Sena, but I dare you to tell the difference between him and Michael Bay, Simon West, or Tony Scott, the directors of Bruckheimer's last four films. When one thinks of The Rock (1996), Con Air (1997), Armageddeon (1998), and Enemy of the State (1998), one thinks only of Jerry Bruckheimer, the Explosion King.

Gone in 60 Seconds also offers a lot of car chases. But, typical of the Bruckheimer style, they're shown in numerous choppy cuts so that the action is not entirely clear. (In one scene, I counted three cuts for a character to punch Cage in the stomach once.) The big climax comes when Cage steals his ultimate car, number 50, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 (he calls it his unicorn -- his mythical creature -- at least three times). He then drives all over L.A. to get away from dozens of cops, the Mustang's engine thundering like God's own fury. He even drives through that same giant concrete drainage ditch already used in Grease (1978), Repo Man (1984), Buckaroo Banzai (1984) and Terminator 2 (1991).

To that end, Bruckheimer and Sena would have done well to study the great car chase movies; Peter Yates' Bullitt (1968), William Friedkin's The French Connection (1971) and Jade (1995), Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), John Frankenheimer's Ronin (1998), and Disney's Herbie the Love Bug movies, to get the concept of clarity, or maybe become inspired and develop a few original ideas of their own. Gone in 60 Seconds just continually bashes us over the head with its overall ineptitude.

The only thing the movie seems to have done its homework on is cars. Whenever characters have a down moment, they talk about cars. (Robert Duvall keeps tapes of engine noises in his garage.) Their love of cars makes one think that the normal people who own all these spectacular Mercedes', Austin Martins, Cadillacs, Corvettes, Porsches, and Ferraris couldn't possibly appreciate them. Thus they deserve to be stolen. But, what the filmmakers have failed to take into account is knowledgeable audience members, like my dad, who love cars and are going to ultimately feel ripped off by this movie.

My dad deserves better.

DVD Details: In 2005, Miramax released a new "Unrated Director's Cut" special edition DVD with 10 more minutes of footate inserted back into the film. Extras include several featurettes, a trailer and a music video with The Cult.

DVD Details: Also in 2005, BCI Eclipse released the virtually unknown, in a great, pristine-looking digitaltransfer on a DVD with lots of extras, and including a little plastic license plateinside the package.

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