Benjamin has been reviewing films online since 2004 and has seen way more action movies than he should probably admit to!
What's the big deal?
Gone in Sixty Seconds is an action thriller film released in 2000 and is a loose remake of the 1974 film of the same name directed by H.B. Halicki. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Dominic Sena, the film follows a professional car thief forced by a local crime boss to steal 50 cars in an effort to get his younger brother released. The film stars Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Christopher Ecclestone, Robert Duvall, Vinnie Jones, and Delroy Lindo. The film was released to a chorus of negative reviews from critics who slammed the film for its acting, writing, and direction. Despite this, the film still managed to find an audience with global takings in excess of $237 million and helped established Jolie as a leading lady in her own right. It's certainly no classic but if you're in the right frame of mind, it's an ultra-macho diversion with some decent action sequences and some truly lovely looking cars.
What's it about?
Kip Raines is an aspiring car thief working for local hoodlum Raymond Calitri, a British gangster running organized crime. While he may be lacking in skills, he makes up for it with enthusiasm as his older brother, Memphis, is a legendary car thief now quietly living in retirement (having gone straight). As Calitri has charged Kip with stealing fifty cars for him, Kip quickly runs into trouble after he steals a Porsche and runs foul of the police. With Detectives Castlebeck and Drycoff paying close attention to Kip's activities, Calitri kidnaps Kip and threatens to kill him.
Realizing his brother is in trouble, Memphis has no choice but to confront Calitri in person who agrees to spare Kip on one condition: Memphis now has 72 hours to steal the fifty cars Calitri requires or Kip will be killed. With the increase in police activity, Memphis consults his old mentor Otto Halliwell and they agree to reassemble Memphis' old crew including his former girlfriend Sway. But Memphis decides on an incredibly risky strategy: stealing all fifty cars in one night before the cops realize what is happening.
What's to like?
The film can be summed up in just two words: Jerry Bruckheimer. His influence runs rampant throughout the movie and like many of his other films like Bad Boys, Con Air, or Armageddon, this film is a triumph of style and bombast over substance. But in truth, the film's intended audience won't care too much: they'll be more interested in whether the film entertains or excites, and generally speaking, it does. It may take a while for them to appear in the film but the driving scenes are great fun, scored by an underrated soundtrack that screams the year 2000 and populated by some really beautiful, noisy machines that most petrol-heads will get a kick out of. Of course, the near-mythical 'Eleanor' (a 1967 Ford Shelby GT500) is the vehicular star of the show but there is plenty of other automotive eye-candy such as a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, a 1999 Jaguar XJ220 (my car of choice), and a 1965 Pontiac GTO.
Jolie might not have much to do but she brings plenty of sex appeal to the film which is heavily aimed squarely at a young and male audience. She certainly stands out against the rest of the cast who didn't make much of an impact on me with the exception of Lindo as Memphis' nemesis. Other Bruckheimer trademarks include films drenched in Californian sunshine and marinated in cliche and sure enough, Gone in Sixty Seconds is both. This isn't the sort of film that benefits from looking at it too deeply but instead, it's just the sort of noisy and explosive action film that leaves me breathless but is rather bereft of things other movies rely on like a cohesive storyline or originality.
- Ecclestone decided to speak with his natural Lancashire accent because he felt that English accents in Hollywood films were either Cockney or posh. However, Ecclestone later described the film as 'a terrible film in which I give a terrible performance'.
- There were a total of seven 'Eleanor' vehicles used for the film, five of which were destroyed. Cage and Bruckheimer kept the other two - Cage regularly uses his while Bruckheimer is afraid of driving his.
- Timothy Olyphant, who played Det. Drycoff in this film, was the original choice to play Dominic Toretto in the original The Fast And The Furious but he turned the role down, feeling the film was too similar to this film. The next person to be offered the role was Vin Diesel and the rest is history.
- On the blackboard listing the cars to be stolen, one of them is listed as a 1969 Dodge Superbird but there is no such car. Plymouth made a car called the Superbird in 1970 which bore a striking similarity to a car made by Dodge in 1969, the Charger Daytona.
What's not to like?
The film's biggest problem is the storyline which is uneven, incoherent, and not deep enough to sustain the film for its running time. Compared to the original (which ran for just 105 minutes, forty of those were a car chase), this remake feels unnecessarily padded out and it shows. Aside from the cast members I've already mentioned, the film is devoid of memorable characters and moments with little chemistry between any of them besides Jolie and Cage. As for the leading man who is known for being wildly inconsistent, Cage has flashes of wackiness that make him feel like an annoying douchebag but generally, is a disappointment. Ecclestone also feels miscast as the underwhelming villain, whose odd eccentricities aren't explained or expanded on. Even Jones, who was wonderfully charismatic in his debut Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, is reduced to playing a virtually mute character - whose idea was that?
While the soundtrack is good enough for viewers of a certain age, it dates the film quite badly, and to be fair, Gone in Sixty Seconds already feels like an updated 70's B movie and about as cutting edge as a wooden spoon. The whole film feels shallow and lacks any kind of depth which does hamper your enjoyment of the film - I challenge anyone to watch this film and remember any of the dialogue or action sequences in the film after a week. It doesn't do anything original or have any new ideas to bring to an undercooked premise and if you're going to bother revisiting and remaking an earlier film, surely you need to have a decent reason. The only new thing I noticed in the film was the updated automotive porn on offer which presumably came about as a result of massive product placement.
Should I watch it?
It's no classic, and under scrutiny, the film shouldn't really work. It feels underwritten, underdeveloped, and underperformed. However, the film works better if you are a lover of vintage cars and all things petrol-fuelled. It's silly and delightfully over the top but it doesn't do much to remain in the memory once its over. If you're looking for something noisy and dumb then this will do the job and at least it's a viable alternative to a more popular and longer-lasting car-based franchise mentioned above.
Great For: petrol heads, undemanded action fans, forgiving audiences
Not So Great For: pushing boundaries, wasting its cast, Ecclestone's Hollywood aspirations
What else should I watch?
The original Gone In 60 Seconds is an independent film written, produced, and directed by H.B. Halicki, an actor and stuntman who moved into filmmaking using his already extensive collection of cars. With barely a script, Halicki produced the film and managed to include the aforementioned 40-minute car chase: still the longest in cinema history. Halicki also drove several cars in the film and even performed the film's 128-foot jump for the finale, compacting ten vertebrae and leaving him with a limp. After two more independent releases following a similar theme to this film (1982's The Junkman and 1983's Deadline Auto Theft), Halicki was killed in a freak accident on the set of a proposed sequel to Gone In Sixty Seconds in 1989.
Despite the continued (and some may say, surprising) success of the Fast & Furious franchise, the Seventies were the heyday of automotive films. From the trippy madness of Vanishing Point to the blockbusting comedy of Smokey And The Bandit, the decade also witnessed the debut of Steven Spielberg with the film Duel in which a motorist is terrorized by an unseen driver in a truck. Other films you might like to consider include chirpy Sixties caper The Italian Job, apocalyptic road-rage vision Mad Max and Jason Statham's first foray into action heroism, The Transporter.
Randall "Memphis" Raines
Sara "Sway" Wayland
Det. Roland Castlebeck
Release Date (UK)
4th August, 2000
Action, Crime, Thriller
© 2020 Benjamin Cox