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Gone in 60 Seconds   D+

Touchstone Pictures

Year Released: 2000
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Dominic Sena
Writer: Scott Rosenberg
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Delroy Lindo, Will Patton, Christopher Eccleston, Chi McBride, Robert Duvall, Scott Caan, Vinnie Jones.

Review by Rob Vaux

When making a film under the watchful eye of producer Jerry "Get That Second Lightning Bolt Off The Logo Before My Partner's Body Cools" Bruckheimer, there is one thing -- and only one thing -- that you cannot do. You can be rude. You can be derivative. You can be misogynist. You can pander to the basest, lowest human desires. You can pound smug, arrogant heroes down the audience's throat until they want to smash Tom Cruise's face against the cockpit windshield. You can make a movie whose unspoken ethics champion all that is twisted and vile in our souls. Yes, you can do all of those things and more...

...but you cannot UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be boring.

Bruckheimer's films are bastions of populist trash, but at the very least they provide something interesting to watch. Consider, then, Gone in 60 Seconds, a film professing to be the cinematic equivalent of a strobe light strapped to your eyeballs. It's got all of the signs of a typical Bruckheimer production -- pulse-pounding action veiling a whole lot of soulless tripe. The trouble is, it doesn't deliver on the pulse-pounding action...and Bruckheimer is not the sort of guy who does anything else at all well.

The film begins ominously with the stupidest car thief in the world conducting the stupidest car theft of all time. Would-be player Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) has assembled a first-rate crew with high-tech gear to boost the finest wheels in town, but still seems to feel that a rock through the window is the best way to get the job done. Not surprisingly, this little Rhodes Scholar ends up on the wrong side of his sadistic crime boss (Christopher Eccleston), who needs 50 rare and expensive cars to fill his latest order. Enter Kip's brother, "Memphis" Raines (Nicholas Cage), the best car thief in the world who gave it all up to run a go-kart track in the sticks. With Kip handcuffed to a Trans-Am in the middle of a press machine, it's up to Memphis to deliver the cars before the clock runs out.

Unfortunately, the chases, explosions and zany mayhem that presumably come with this package are few and far-between. Instead, we're treated to variants of the same basic scenario -- car thief jimmies lock, car thief steals car -- interspersed with a lot of pointless dialogue. This is not exciting. This is not even interesting. In order to keep us engaged, the filmmakers periodically come up with further examples of the heroes doing stupid things that get them into big trouble, just so that we can watch them get out of it. The sympathy factor starts to drop after the second bonehead play, and by the fifth, you find yourself actively hoping the good guys will die horrible deaths. Most of the real action is saved for the last 20 minutes, when a tired car chase serves as the dubious capper to the entire affair. By then, we're less concerned with the explosions than with staying awake to the credits.

The talent on display here renders the film even more disheartening. Bruckheimer and his MTV camera-slug-of-the-month director have assembled quite a cast, which might explain why everyone looks like they've got better things to do. Jolie and Duvall are wasted in stock roles that any nitwit with a SAG card could fill, while Cage tries desperately to flesh out his cardboard hero with weird tics and fluttery hand gestures. Eccleston, a graduate of the Robert Carlyle School of Evil Scotsmen, is barely on-screen long enough to hate, and Ribisi looks like he's just hanging out until his check clears. Ironically, the most watchable on-screen presence is former English football star Vinnie Jones, whose glowering stare makes up for the fact that he has almost no lines at all. If an over-the-hill Eurojock can steal the show in the midst of three Oscar winners, there's something seriously wrong.

I could talk about all of the other difficulties this film has -- the bad dialogue, the hackneyed visuals, the cliché upon staggering cliché -- but why bother? If a Bruckheimer film doesn't reduce your senses to a pile of slag within the first half-hour, then there's really no further point to the exercise. As a movie in general, Gone in 60 Seconds is garbage. As a joy buzzer, it's suffering from permanent brownout. Pick your poison; either way, there's no reason to waste any time on it. Life is short, explosions are plentiful, and bastions of populist trash need to do better than this. A lot better.

Review published 06.16.2000.

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