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1 item from 2000

Film review: 'Gone in 60 Seconds'

9 June 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Like a stolen car driven into a chop shop during the dead of night, "Gone in 60 Seconds" has seen all of its major components stripped away. Gone are logic, character development and nuance; this is moviemaking pared to the bare essential of movement. But having streamlined this admittedly commercial vehicle for a fast boxoffice payoff, its producers have astonishingly failed to deliver the anticipated jolts and thrills. How can a movie about an auto-theft ring contain so few car chases?

Starring no fewer than three Academy Award-winning actors -- Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall -- and directed by video and commercial director Dominic Sena, "Gone" is an action movie without much action. So much footage is devoted to the design of the "boosts" -- the recruitment of thieves, tracking down of cars and establishment of their exact locations -- that there is time for only one substantial car chase during the final reel.

Disney can shrug off negative reviews for this Jerry Bruckheimer production as the cost of doing action-movie business. But what should worry the studio are downbeat reactions from young males disappointed with its PG-13 rated mildness and lack of hot action. Shots of parked cars just won't cut it with this bunch, so those huge opening-weekend grosses may take a dive once word-of-mouth gets around.

The film is based on a 1974 cult movie of the same name made by the late H.B. "Toby" Halicki, a Southern California car collector and junkyard owner. There wasn't much of a story in Halicki's indie film, but it featured a 40-minute extravaganza of revved-up chases and car wrecks, a giddy, what-the-hell destruction derby unequaled by any studio film.

How ironic is it that this new Hollywood version shies away from such profligacy? Its most conspicuous waste comes in forcing three Oscar winners to take a back seat to overpriced sports and luxury cars.

Cage plays a reformed car thief dragooned back into his old life when his kid brother, Giovanni Ribisi -- who has followed in his brother's footsteps -- messes up a big order. Unless Cage steals 50 cars in one night, malevolent businessman Christopher Eccleston will kill Ribisi. Cage recruits several old buddies including Duvall, Jolie and Chi McBride to perform this automotive mission impossible.

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg throws every conceivable roadblock into Cage's path: auto-theft task force police detective Delroy Lindo, who vows to nail his arch nemesis; a rival gang of auto thieves murderously determined to enforce its territorial imperative; Ribisi's youthful teammates, who do more harm than good; and even a key-eating dog that must be force-fed laxatives to extricate three vital keys.

Rosenberg paints his characters in only primary colors, without moral shading or intriguing personality tics. Similarly, his setups reek of the obvious. If a license plate reads SNAKE, you can bet a snake is coiled up inside the car. And character backstories emerge at strange times, holding up rather than fueling the narrative drive.

Sena -- who made one previous foray into feature directing with 1993's "Kalifornia", an uneven though often-tense road drama -- fails to find his footing amid Rosenberg's haphazard dramaturgy. He never sustains a pace that would build dramatic conflict.

Technical contributions are adequate for the genre but not outstanding. Even the major chase is accomplished more in the editing room than on set as stunts are pieced together with quick cuts from hundreds of camera angles.

The movie's cars dominate like prima donnas that must be coddled rather than driven hard. Consequently, the stars are turned into supporting players, stuck with trying to make sense of Rosenberg's comic-book melodrama. Cage is in nearly every scene, while Jolie is scarcely in the movie. Yet their impact is the same: They are here to make love to their automobiles, wax rhapsodic about engine parts and get teary-eyed over gleaming pieces of chrome.

As a result, minor actors in

single-dimensional roles stick out much more, such as English professional footballer Vinnie Jones as a mute strongman or James Duval's hapless though happy screw-up.

Ultimately, the film indulges in the wrong sins. It feels sluggish and tired when it should suffer from too much fuel-injected pep.


Buena Vista Pictures

Touchstone Pictures

and Jerry Bruckheimer Films

Producers Jerry Bruckheimer, Mike Stenson

Director Dominic Sena

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg

Executive producers Jonathan Hensleigh,

Chad Oman, Barry Waldman, Denice Shakarian Halicki, Robert Stone, Webster Stone

Director of photography Paul Cameron

Production designer Jeff Mann

Music Trevor Rabin

Costume designer Marlene Stewart

Editors Tom Muldoon, Chris Lebenzon



Memphis Raines Nicolas Cage

Kip Raines Giovanni Ribisi

Sara "Sway" Wayland Angelina Jolie

Detective Roland Castlebeck Delroy Lindo

Atley Jackson Will Patton

Otto Robert Duvall

Raymond Calitri Christopher Eccleston

Kenny Chi McBride

Running time -- 119 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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