Gone In 60 Seconds: Director's Cut Review
Jerry Bruckheimer seems to be a man that knows a good idea when he sees one, or at least a profitable one, so in a way it’s strange that his career hasn’t seen more remakes, although his original projects make an awful lot of money you’d think every now and then he’d sit around and think, “I could have made this so much better.” So Gone In 60 Seconds stands lonely as Bruckheimer’s only remake, but what was it about this one that captured his imagination? Well I’d venture it had something to do with a 1967 Shelby GT 500. Going very, very fast.
Memphis Raines (Nicolas Cage) used to be the best at what he did. Unfortunately that was stealing cars, and that isn’t a career with the best retirement options, so before he ended up in a small jail cell or an even smaller wooden box he walked away. Not only from stealing cars, but from his family and friends, he needed a fresh start to ensure he didn’t fall back into his former wicked ways. And that worked, now he’s running a go-kart track, teaching kids the joys of driving too fast, and he hasn’t stolen a thing in years. One thing he didn’t count on though, was his younger brother making a career on the back of his reputation. Young Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) wanted the life his brother had, driving beautiful cars and being a name his peers respected. Shame he’s not quite as good at it as his big brother then, because now he’s gotten himself in way over his head. Employed by a nasty piece of work going by the name of ‘The Carpenter’ (Christopher Eccleston) he’s suffered a bit of a setback on his latest job, and the police have reclaimed the large collection of exotic automobiles he’d already stolen towards the total of 50 he’s promised to deliver. Back to square one, Kip has just three days left to deliver the cars of he’s going to be in a box small enough to be stored under one of The Carpenter’s ornamental footstools. Naturally there’s only one thing to be done, Memphis has to get back in the game and assemble the former shining stars of the Bay area police’s auto theft most wanted board in order to make good on his brother’s obligation. And as if stealing 50 cars wasn’t hard enough, Memphis wants to do it all in a single night.
For characters we’re supposed to sympathise with, car thieves are an odd choice, after all 90% of the people sitting down to watch the film will own a car themselves so why should we be rooting for these criminals? Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t drive a Porsche, and I didn’t see a whole lot of Corsa theft going on in this movie, so I was able to sit back happily and watch them steal an amazing array of beautiful cars. And, though I’m sure everyone involved would completely deny this sentiment, they made stealing cars look really, really cool. Really though, they had to, because the cars, and of course car chases, are all Gone In 60 Seconds has going for it, because on every other level it’s trite nonsense. Sure we’re presented with enough famous faces to ensure that everybody has somebody they like in the movie, but they are all so clearly in the movie because their agents thought it would be good exposure for them, and grease the budgetary wheels of a smaller project - except of course Nicolas Cage, he gave up on the idea of acting for a living as soon as Face/Off was a hit. The direction is slick - Dominic Sena went on to make the equally vacuous-yet-entertaining Swordfish - but peel away the gloss and there’s nothing left behind. The sub-plot involving rival car thieves, annoyed at the Raines brothers for stealing their ‘contract’ is a shallow attempt to inject any form of action into the movie’s horribly slow first half, killing time before the main event of very grand grand theft auto, and it really doesn’t help the movie at all.
That, however, is one of the areas that this remake stays true to the original, because by all accounts that was a movie desperate for a DVD release, but only because its fans were so keen to be able to bypass all but the last 40 minutes. The other plot details share only small similarities, our original hero Maindrain Pace (yes, that’s Main Drain. Who came up with that?) worked in car insurance by day and stole cars by night, and only wanted to fill his order of 40 cars stealing from people who were insured - clearly a criminal with a heart of gold - but managed to end his movie destroying nearly 100 cars in an almighty chase scene that has gone down in history. This remake doesn’t have such a grand finale, their total of totalled cars is paltry by comparison, but we all know there’s something about a good car chase that can’t fail to entertain, and that’s where Gone In 60 Seconds manages to wrestle its way out of being a waste of time into the burgeoning wasteland of mediocrity, with a final act that delivers the goods you’ve been so desperately craving - much like a pizza delivery boy at 2am on a Saturday, running well past his quoted 30 minutes, you might be cursing his name, but you just stop caring as soon as the good stuff arrives. Still, Gone In 60 Seconds is certainly not a film that will be receiving a tip.
So, what does this Director’s Cut do to rectify the situation? Naturally you’d expect more of the beautiful cars, more chases, and if you’re lucky a bit more of the lovely Angelina Jolie. You’ll be disappointed though, because all that’s been added to this already over-long film is more exposition. Now forgive me for seeming ungrateful, I’m sure you’ll find many a review where I’ve demanded more deleted scenes, or director’s allowed their original vision, but it’s clear there is nothing more at work here than greed. I would suspect that this was Dominic Sena’s original cut of the movie, and that cuts were demanded to pick up the pace, rather than this being the vision he’s been campaigning long and hard for, because there isn’t anything here that actually improves the film. The extended voyeuristic sex scene, which was horrendously gratuitous originally, is now even longer and serves no purpose other than getting a brief glimpse of nudity into the movie which is - quite frankly - of little interest to anyone. There was a time - 1987 i think - where putting a nameless actress in a movie for the sole purpose of exposing herself was mandatory, certainly on a straight to video release at least, but times change, and now it just looks like someone was hoping they could get a higher rating out of the movie to boost sales from impressionable males hoping it would be Angelina. Aside from that scene all we get is more backstory, more emotion (or at least attempts at it) but not one significant extra plot point, character, or even car theft. This is certainly a case where the director’s original vision, was somewhat blurred, because exposition is not why people came to see this movie.
Gone In 60 Seconds was really designed to do just one thing, let you appreciate the cars, be it them being stolen, them being driven fast, or them just being filmed in the flashiest, coolest way possible. Thankfully on that count it succeeds, the cars look fantastic and the chases are exhilarating, making the movie a good enough distraction for a slow evening. It’s just a shame it didn’t set out to do more than that, i know it didn’t have much to work with - the original was equally lacking in plot - but Bruckheimer’s producing clout is usually enough to drag the best from a ropey concept, and here it only managed the minimum.
The Picture and Sound
This is one area the film doesn’t disappoint, as it comes to DVD looking like it’s had three coats of wax. The picture is vibrant and crisp, and doesn’t falter through the darkened scenes - of which there are many, after all car theft is a rather clandestine pursuit. The soundtrack is equally slick, and makes you wish cars sounded as amazing in real life as they do in the movies. The original movie came with a DTS track on DVD, strangely no version of the remake seems to have followed suit, but both versions of this director’s cut give you a fantastic sounding Dolby Digital track, so I guess there isn’t much to complain about. The picture on the R2 is near identical between the standard and director’s cuts with the director's cut looking slightly lighter, though they do look slightly better than the R1 release, but that’s just the standard difference between NTSC and PAL resolutions. Both versions of the director's cut are also framed slightly differently, with a little extra width to the frame on the left, though this difference is slight.
Conversations with Jerry Bruckheimer
This featurette seems to have nothing to do with Gone in 60 Seconds directly, but Bruckheimer tries to give us an idea of exactly what a producer does in order to get a movie up on the screen. For a man that knows so much about what an audience wants, it’s impressive to see he knows so little about films, comparing Michael Bay with David Lean. Michael may make some spectacular movies, but please, Lawrence of Arabia they’re not!
The Big Chase
Here the movie’s climax is broken down into three making-of featurettes, L.A. Streets, Naval Yard, and The Big Jump. Whilst there is no sensible reason to separate these into individual segments, but these make interesting viewing, with the majority of the explanation coming from director Dominic Sena. It’s sometimes surprising to see which elements were real and which were created with CGI, although nobody will be surprised by how much of ‘the big jump’ was artificially created, as it looks bloody awful.
The actors did a large amount of their own driving in the film, particularly Nicolas Cage, and this is a brief look at the fun they got to have. Much like Tom Cruise in Top Gun you get the idea the real reason Cage took the role was to go to school, as here he got to go to two separate driving schools, one for the stunts and one race driving school that just taught him how to go fast.
Stars on the Move
Pretty much every actor in the film is treated to a largely time wasting snippet explaining the character they play, and why they either wanted the role or were chosen for it, but this is purely padding.
Possibly the best way to watch the movie, here the action highlights are condensed into just a minute and a half, which is less time than your average trailer. Of course they make no sense in this context, but then, who cares, it’s a mindless action piece!
Zero to 60: From Script to Screen
This look at the writing of the film for some reason doesn’t acknowledge that the film is actually a remake, screenwriter Scott Rosenberg merely says he was asked to write a script about a guy that has to steal fifty cars in a single night. Jerry Bruckheimer mentions that this film “isn’t just one big car chase” clearly referring to the original, but most wouldn’t know that. It seems the movie was written with Nicolas Cage, Giovanni Ribisi and Angelina Jolie in mind, and from the way Bruckheimer talks none of them were that enthusiastic, and required quite a bid of ‘pursuing’ to convince them to take the roles, doubtless with a big cheque book.
The disc also comes with a music video from The Cult and the original theatrical trailer.
Gone in 60 Seconds is trash. Incredibly slick trash that often quite entertaining, but trash nonetheless. This Director’s Cut has some delusions that we actually want or need to know more about the characters, whereas in actuality H.B. Halicki had it right with the original version, this is a story for people that love cars and car chases, anything else is just wasting our time, so I’d have to recommend that if you feel like adding Gone in 60 Seconds to your collection you make it the theatrical release, or even better, the awful (but at least it knows it) 1974 original, which at least has a fantastic car chase without a hint of CGI. Whichever version (of the remake) you choose however, you’ll be treated to the same great Dolby Digital 5.1 track, excellent picture, and identical weak extras.