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"Gone in Sixty Seconds"

Directed by Dominic Sena ("New Jersey Drive").
Written by Scott Rosenberg.  Based on the 1974 of the same name. 
Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi and Robert Duvall.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  6/11/00 


Mad, MAD props go out to Beth "Skillem" Phillips for the birth of her first son last week while I was on vacation.  Eight pounds and a few ounces make Sam a big boy; I don't have too many friends my age with kids, so this is a pretty big deal for me, not to mention Beth and her bad-ass husband Blanton "Packrat" Phillips.  Wow, wow, wow...

I am a little jet-lagged, and when I came back last night, I hit the sack pretty hard.  Not wanting to stay in the house all day long despite 98-degree heat, I decided to hit a flick with Brian "Schmoove" Prenoveau over in Arlington.  Our choice was the Nicolas Cage action movie "Gone in Sixty Seconds," produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.  If you know who Jerry Bruckheimer is, you can go ahead and stop reading this review now, because you know what it is about.

If you don't know who Bruckheimer is, let me fill in some blanks.  Have you seen "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder," "Crimson Tide," "Bad Boys," "The Rock," or "Armageddon"?  If you have, then you have seen "Gone in Sixty Seconds."  It is really that simple.  All of the overhyped, loud sound effects, multiple vehicle explosions, gratuitous stunt double usage, visuals that are so overproduced that you can barely tell what is happening onscreen sometimes, and storyless characters are all here, although not done as well as they were in some of the past movies listed above.  This time, Bruckheimer apparently couldn't get Tony Scott or Michael Bay to direct the movie, so he got Dominic Sena (I believe he did "New Jersey Drive," a movie that no one saw but did establish Sena's street cred with stealing cars) to direct it instead.  And, most of the actors in this movie have been in other Bruckheimer films:  Cage ("The Rock" and "Con Air", another Bruckheimer production), Robert Duvall ("Days of Thunder"), and Will Patton ("Armageddon") are all in "Gone in Sixty Seconds."  It makes you wonder if Bruckheimer himself should just go ahead and direct the film and save himself some cash.

All of that being said, the film is not half bad.  The film itself is a remake of a film I have never seen, so I won't be referring to that here.  The plot is simple:  retired car thief--apparently, there is such a thing--Memphis Raines (Cage) must come out of retirement because his younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) is in big trouble with a foreign criminal that needs to fill an order for 50 stolen cars by the end of the week.  Since Kip got caught by the cops stealing some of the cars, Memphis has to round up a gang of car thieves and steal the 50 cars in a 12-hour period the night before the criminal needs the cars.  Luckily, Memphis is on good terms with the former members of his team, including Sway (Angelina Jolie), Otto (Duvall), and a bunch of extras that Bruckheimer gives some good lines to say and fit all of the stereotypes these movies usually exploit:  the quiet brute, the techie, the loser, the gimp, the token black guy, the ghetto fabulous kid, and the slow-witted but amiable outsider.  So, with the team all set, all Memphis and his gang have to do is boost (steal) the cars and fill the order before a cop that knows Memphis' past (Delroy Lindo) catches on to them.

I like cars but I am far from the enthusiast, so I enjoyed looking at all of the pretty car eye candy that is presented over the course of the movie.  And, being a Bruckheimer movie, the car chases are done reasonably well, which is key since there are so many of them.  There are some pretty funny lines and some cool scenes, especially watching Raines and his gang jack all of those cars in the last half-hour.  The soundtrack for this movie was phat, so I will be picking up a copy of this very soon; Brian and I have a rule that says anytime a movie has The Crystal Method on its soundtrack, it will at least be a decent film, and this movie is no exception.  And, the scene where Memphis is getting the gang psyched up listening to "Low Rider" is just damned funny.

The good outweighed the bad here, but there is plenty bad.  There are some absolutely awful lines in this film, and I mean "The World is Not Enough"-type bad.  What is the one cliche you can think of that includes the word "rains"?  Well, you guessed it, they put it in this film and it is piss-poor.  How about characters that literally have no background?  Not one--repeat, not one--of the members in Kip's gang is explained to the audience as having any connection to Kip whatsoever.  Example:  where did Kip meet these guys?  Why do they steal cars for him?  How old are they?  Do they have day jobs?  (I don't get the impression that stealing cars is very profitable or, more importantly, very time-consuming.)  Girlfriends?  Families?  It would have been nice to know why they are risking their lives for him.  Same goes for Memphis' old mates:  who is Sphinx (the quiet brute stereotype listed above)?  Otto says that Memphis shouldn't call him, but why?  We find out that he is pretty good at stealing cars, and he and Otto have no prior history of problems.  So, why shouldn't Memphis call him?  And, although Cage is apparently the greatest car thief in the land (one character actually says "the legend precedes him"), we never find out how long he was in the car-stealing business, how many cars he has stolen, how rich he got doing it, if it was just in Long Beach, California...only that he has a problem stealing '67 Shelby GT 500s, which is the final car that needs to be stolen.  Apparently, the writers thought that would be enough to get by.

Stealing 50 cars seems like a monumental task.  But, in the movie, they steal about 45 of them without incident.  Funny thing, too, how they only have about 12 hours to steal the cars and drive them to a warehouse back in Long Beach:  they don't ever seem to be in a hurry!  Why, then, is Memphis asking Otto every so often, "What do you think?  Can it be done?"  Shit!  They could have stolen 100 cars if they just wanted to!  The token black guy even has time to talk some shit to a would-be carjacker during one scene...hey man, aren't you in a hurry?  Cage and Jolie watch another couple fool around before stealing a Countach...hey, Memphis, don't you have a job to do?  The idea was so cool that it seems like the writers just wrote off the actual stealing of the vehicles by the end.

Jolie is barely in this film, and she has nothing intelligent or funny or inspiring or anything to say.  This is the purest example of selling out I have seen in a while.  Jolie--clearly the celebrity by the time she filmed this movie--goes through the motions here and seems to be saying, "Now, where's my bag of money, bitch?"  Because the cast is so big--Cage's gang numbers ten on its own, let alone the cops, criminals, and middle men in the film--there doesn't seem to be room for Jolie's character.  Duvall seemed to do this movie as a favor for Bruckheimer, because this material is clearly beneath a man that was just two years ago nominated for Best Actor in a film that he wrote and directed, "The Apostle."  And, Ribisi is playing the exact same character he has played in every movie he has been in for the last two years:  slightly cracked out, speaking in a jarble of words that seem like English spoken by a drunk, unsure of himself, clumsy, and sleepy.  Very, very sleepy.  Ribisi and Freddie Prinze, Jr. need to go to a class on how to play different characters in order to expand your career.  Sad.

Do you remember a scene like this:  a car is being chased by, say, three or four police cars.  Ahead of the non-cop car, a truck or construction vehicle is pulling out of an alley, and the non-cop just squeezes by the truck/construction vehicle before it closes off the alley.  Naturally, the cops can't get through because the truck has pulled out and stopped.

Does this happen in real life?  In "Gone in Sixty Seconds," this happens about four times.  If there is no one in the alley behind the truck, why doesn't it just pull back into the spot where it came from?  Could the truck driver not hear the fucking sirens of the cars screaming down the alley?  What do YOU do when you see an ambulance or a police car driving down the road at 80 MPH?  If you are like me, you pull over to the side of the road.  In the movies, they never do that.  In fact, when a non-cop drives through a construction area or a major urban center, what usually happens is that the first car runs some people off of the road, and then everyone on the street just goes back to whatever it was they were doing before that car ran through them...and then, the cops come flying down the road after the non-cop, and the streets clear again to sounds of screaming and yelling, as if they couldn't hear the cops coming until they were five feet away!  And, the cops had their fucking sirens on!!!

Do movies think that I am a fucking nitwit?  Do I look so dumb as to not understand what real people would do in the same situation?  Movies are getting smarter and smarter as the year 2000 rolls on, and the point of this tirade is that some of Bruckheimer's tried-and-true formulas for his action movies are getting a little thin.  He may need to stray from the path a little bit in his next film, before new-age formulas like "The Matrix" pass him by.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09