Gone in 60 Seconds Review

The Movie
Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) is getting into the car stealing (or "boosting") business, and following in the footsteps of his older brother. Trouble is, he's young, impetuous, and not very good at it. After making a hash of stealing a Porsche to order, the boosting ring he's part of have the police on its tail. This has put him in deep trouble with crime boss Raymond Colitri (Christopher Eccleston), so his brother, renowned booster Randall "Memphis" Raines has to come out of retirement to finish the job, or Calitri will kill Kip. The job itself involves stealing 50 cars in 72 hours. Randall Raines starts putting his old team together, including old mentor Otto (Robert Duvall), old flame Sarah "Sway" Wayland (Angelina Jolie) and the non-speaking Sphinx (Vinnie Jones). Things start going wrong when he's forced to employ his brother and his equally inexperienced friends. To complicate matters further his old nemesis in the police force - Detective Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo) - soon learns that Randall is back in town, and his quickly on his tail. The 50 cars to be stolen are all expensive and exotic and include Randall's "unicorn", a car that he has never managed to succesfully steal, being a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500. The race is now on to get all the cars in time before the deadline, as his brother's life is at stake.

It's a Bruckheimer movie. It's got lots of fast cars in it. So even if it's nonsense, it should at least be a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride of a movie, right? Wrong. Given the track record of the producer, and the subject matter of the movie, it's amazing that this film fails to generate much excitement. I'm always a little bit worried about watching films with lots of expensive cars, as it brings back bad memories of such films as Cannonball Run where lots of flash cars get trashed. But here the action is centred around only a few of the 50 cars that need to be stolen, everything else is just routine (and therefore uninteresting). They might as well have been stealing washing machines for most of the time. To be fair, when there is action it is competently done. The main car chase is generally well paced and realistic, with the exception of the obligatory "mile long" impossible car jump. At least it doesn't fall into the same trap as The Rock with its childishly moronic action sequences, albeit it's very A Team in that cars get wiped out but everyone walks away uninjured. But there just isn't enough excitement generated throughout the movie as there should have been.

Nicolas Cage of course plays himself as "Memphis" Raines, though Nicolas Cage playing himself isn't necessarily a bad thing. A particular Nic Cage "moment" is when he is psyching himself up before the big "boost". These days, no Hollywood movie is complete without a good old English villian, so here we have Christopher Eccleston playing the furniture obsessed Raymond Calitri, who escaped from a jail in "South London" to wreak havoc in America. As he's English, he's an "evil" car thief, as opposed to Cage's "nice guy" car thief. Director Sena says in the extras that he was looking for a different kind of villian. I beg to differ, this is just yet another English bad guy, and I can only imagine the normally high quality Eccleston did this to raise his profile in Hollywood. At least on the "good guys" side we have Vinnie Jones, who hardly has to act much as the non-speaking hard man Sphinx. As far as the other characters are concerned, what depth there could have been is largely eliminated by lack of screen time. Angelina Jolie, in particular, has very little to do.

So it's a film that fails to live up to the sum of its parts. It is watchable, has some decent action sequences, and in the Bruckheimer scheme of things it's a lot better than the moronic The Rock. But it should have been a whole let better than it is. Disappointing.

The original print of the film features some inventive use of colour, and this is accurately reproduced here. The daytime sequences have a "goldish brown" look to them that captures the smoggy LA look very well. Other scenes are bathed in a primary colour light, with heavy reliance on blues and reds. A lesser transfer could have fallen apart on this but it is handled very well here. Only a very slight amount of colour bleed from time to time prevents a perfect score.

When any luddite friends visit your house and complain that DVD is a waste of money and little better than tape, you could do worse than to put this disc on as a demonstration of just how good DVD sound quality can be. All the car engines, screeching tyres, explosions are delivered with as much power as you would expect from a major title like this. I was particularly impressed with the police radio broadcasts during the chase sequence, coming at you from all directions.

This is one of those discs that looks like it's brimming with extras, until you discover that many of the "featurettes" are extremely brief snippets that could have been put together to form one more substantial piece. All extras are in 4x3 fullscreen, and the usual "don't watch first" rule applies. The extras themselves are:

Conversations with Jerry Bruckheimer is an overly grand seven minute piece about the man behind all these big budget movies. It covers pretty much all his movies (except this one strangely). When it gets right up to date and he starts comparing Pearl Harbor to a David Lean movie, you'll be reaching for the "menu" button on your remote.

This is followed by a Biography / Filmography of Jerry Bruckheimer which is a screen based but fairly extensive review of Bruckheimer's movie career, followed by a filmography.

Action Overload is ninety seconds of relentless action shots from the movie intermingled with behind the scenes shots. All a bit pointless really.

The Big Chase is broken into three featurettes that cover the three sections of the main car chase in the movie, though as they are all very short it's a bit more of padding out extras. Firstly, LA streets looks at the driving sequence through the streets and alleyways in the city based part of the chase. This section centres on the driving skills of the stunt drivers, and the filming techniques used to make things look even faster than they were. Naval Yard covers the second part of the chase, which is more CGI based, and finally The Big Jump looks at the combination of stunt driving and CGI used for the (impossible) long car jump at the climax of the chase.

What could be regarded as the "making of" featurette is 0 to 60, though at only four minutes, it's hardly substantial. Interestingly the screenwriter makes no mention of the 1974 original when explaining how he dreamt up the ideas for the film. And why is director Dominic Sena frequently filmed sitting in front of a piano with the "Complete Beethoven Sonatas" sheet music on it? Is he trying to show us just what a deep and intellectual guy he really is?

Wild Rides features the work that the actors did in the driving sequences. Nic Cage in particular, did many of his own driving stunts according to this. There's a brief look at the stunt driving school that they attended to learn these skills.

The section Stars on the Move is broken down into sections of the various characters in the movie, and looks at those characters and the actors who play them. As it gives us a chance to hear some of the actors not really featured elsewhere, it's worth a look.

To wrap things up, the theatrical trailer is here, and is the only place where the term "gone in 60 seconds" is actually mentioned. Finally, The Cult music video is of the song Painted on my heart, featured in the movie.

Away from the disc, the booklet contains a fair bit of info, including the list of all fifty cars that have to be stolen (not that you see many of them in the movie).

Final Thoughts
It looks great and it sounds better, and it's got extras that while not as impressive as they first look, still aren't bad. But at the heart of things we have a movie that could have been - and should have been - more exciting than it is. Only worth having the disc to turn up the volume to max and annoy the neighbours.

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