Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000) *

Directed by Dominic Sena. Written by Scott Rosenberg. Photography, Paul Cameron. Editing, Tom Muldoon and Chris Lebenzon.. Production design, Jeff Mann. Music, Trevor Rabin. Cast: Nicolas Cage (Memphis Raines), Giovanni Ribisi (Kip Raines), Angelina Jolie (Sara Wayland), TJ Cross (Mirror Man), William Lee Scott (Toby), Scott Caan (Tumbler), James Duval (Freb), Will Patton (Atley Jackson), Delroy Lindo (Detective Roland Castlebeck), Robert Duvall (Otto Halliwell), Christopher Eccleston (Raymond Calitri), Chi McBride (Donny Astricky), Timothy Olyphant (Detective Drycoff), Grace Zabriskie (Helen Raines), Master P (Johnny B.), et al. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Mike Stenson. Released by Touchstone Pictures. 119 minutes. PG-13.

Master car thief Memphis (Nicolas Cage) quit the racket some years ago because he did not want his impressionable junior brother Kip to follow in his footsteps (or tire tracks). He is now an honest gas station owner (I think) who teaches kids how to race go-karts. But he comes out of retirement when Kip (who, alas, did join the underworld), is about to be punished by getting compacted within a car at a junk yard. The yard (and more) belongs to master thug Calitri (a British import). He is Kip's boss and a caricature of demented villainy, Calitri about to punish Kip with extreme prejudice for non-performance of heist duties. He can only be saved if senior brother Memphis can steal, pronto, 50 classic cars to be shipped abroad.

It's a race against time, with clocks, watches and the countdown regularly printed on the screen. Memphis, in record time, assembles a regiment of "colorful" gang members, most of them from his old organization, many of them having gone straight (it's like an epidemic), some of them new faces. And the big heist is on: the gathering of the tribes, the planning, the introduction of an able cop who will play Nemesis, the complication presented by other thieves, the actual execution of the project.

It's all miserably, poorly, incoherently strung together. The characters as well as the cars are interchangeable. Nothing is elaborated, or at least explained. Heist movies have an educational, how-to-do-it function, but here not a single instructional detail is delved upon or even vaguely illustrated. The car chases are generic, lacking specificity, and interchangeable. If the projectionist were to mix his or her reels it would make no difference, cause no problems.

This incoherence contributes a great deal to the film's total lack of interest, suspense or even sub-suspense.

Is all this dull? Yes, but the noise can keep you awake and especially --in some cases-- your curiosity to see if a car that your daddy or your pal Jake's granddaddy once owned (for we're talking here about a pre- and low--teens audience, the only one possible) is among the "classic" vehicles on the screen.

The film is a sort of remake of the 1974 "Gone in 60 Seconds," the first (of two or three movies) made by H.B. Halicki. That was a movie of chases and crashes shown in drive-ins and said to have become a sort of cult-film in some circles. Halicki produced, wrote, directed, starred, did stunts and everything else in his movie. (Does this make him an "auteur"?) He died (1989) in a stunt accident while filming the sequel "Gone in 60 Seconds 2." His widow's name appears in the end-credits of the remake, as one of the executive producers.

The cast of the current flick is as dull as any, including Angelina Jolie who plays (?) the "de rigueur" one gal in the otherwise all-male/macho gang. He role is (to quote someone else's film) "Less than Zero." Her main function is to pout thick lips and to slow down the action.

The director comes from TV commercials (if you haven't guessed this already) with one feature to his credit, the actioneer "Kalifornia," (1993) which, I am told, has a certain following.

"Gone" is a Jerry Bruckheimer production. JB has a record of spectacular money-makers, most of them summertime action flicks. Among his latest: "Crimson Tide" (1995), "The Rock" (1996), "Con Air" (1997), Enemy of the State (1998), "Armageddon" (1999).

Other Bruckheimers coming in the summer of 2000 "Coyote Ugly" and "Remember the Titans." Caveat emptor.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel