Gone in 60 Seconds has one goal: to take audiences for a ride. In this heist caper, car thieves are portrayed as thrill-fueled joyriders driven by both speed and greed. If they want a fast car, they’ve got the skills to just take it, regardless of the (seemingly slim) chance of getting caught. This product of producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s action factory (The Rock, Con Air) quickly jumps into adrenaline overdrive and stays there, only pausing briefly to glimpse what ended up on the side of the road.
Director Dominic Sena (Kalifornia) has the visual flair to make what is essentially one long car chase continually interesting, and he knows how to balance the exposition scenes with the roller-coaster action sequences that are this film’s raison d’être.
So should audiences expect something more? Not usually, but in this case the characters are so wafer thin and Scott Rosenberg’s screenplay is so lacking in any wit that it actually takes some of the fun out of this popcorn movie.
Slumming Oscar-winners Nicolas Cage, Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie (who receives second-billing but has a glorified cameo) are joined by great character actors (Will Patton, Delroy Lindo, Christopher Eccleston) and striking up-and-comers (Giovanni Ribisi, Vinnie Jones) in a film that utilizes barely a fraction of their talent.
The plot concerns a motley group of (very sympathetically drawn) professional thieves who set out to boost 50 luxury and vintage cars during one night. The reason is a contrived twist on family values: Retired thief Randall "Memphis" Raines (Cage) returns to action to atone for the sins of his hot-dogging younger brother Kip (Ribisi), who messed up an important job for the very dangerous new crime boss, Raymond Calitri (Eccleston, continuing the American movie tradition of sadistically nasty Brits). Meanwhile, Memphis is under the watchful eye of the doggedly persistent cop, Det. Roland Castlebeck (Lindo).
It’s easy to see the appeal in remaking H.B. Halicki’s 1974 low-budget original for Detroit native Bruckheimer, and with typical overkill, he put a supercharged engine under the hood, disregarding the fact that it was a thin frame to begin with.
Gone In 60 Seconds is enjoyable enough while it lasts, but when it’s gone, there’s very little left but a whiff of exhaust and the hope that when you head out to the cineplex parking lot, your car’s still there.
Serena Donadoni writes about film for the Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected].