Director: Dominic Sena
Nicolas Cage has taken a lot of criticism from reviewers and fellow actors alike who resent his following his 1995 Oscar win (over Sean Penn, who happens to be one of his most vocal critics) with a string of big, loud action flicks. I personnally think that it was sound move, as it definitively established Cage as an A-list actor, giving him more freedom to take on smaller, riskier films like “Bringing Out The Dead”. And in any case, I actually like the campy, over-the-top summer rides Cage stars in for producer Jerry Bruckheimer. “The Rock”, “Con Air” and now “Gone In 60 Seconds” were mostly panned for their slick but shallow approach, but in all three of them Cage displays plenty of quirky emergy which make these somewhat generic blockbusters entertaining.
Cage stars as Randall “Memphis” Raines, a legend in the grand theft auto field… a retired legend, that is. Six years ago, at the request of his mom concerned about his negative influence on his kid brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), Memphis packed up and left town, taking a job down south as a go kart instructor. But despite his efforts, his brother still followed his steps and now he’s in deep trouble. He and his crew took a job from master criminal The Carpenter (Christopher Eccleston): to steal 50 very specific cars for 200 grands. Kip blew it, though, and he’s gonna die for it… unless Memphis goes back to his old ways and “boosts” said 50 cars before the deadline. Of course, swift as he may be, he will need help, so he gathers up his old partners in crime, from his old mentor Otto (Robert Duvall) to apparently mute Sphinx (Vinnie Jones), Atley Jackson (Will Patton) and even his sassy old flame Sway (Angelina Jolie). 50 cars. 24 hours. And even if they manage to pull thius off, it’ll eventually come down to Memphis’ “unicorn”, Eleanor, a 1967 GT Mustang, the one car he never achieved to steal no matter how often he tried. Will he be luckier this time?
“Gone In 60 Seconds” was directed by Dominic Sena (“Kalifornia”) but in the end, he’s little more than a puppet to producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who worked out through the years his own recipe for a guarenteed summer blockbuster. From “Top Gun” to “Beverly Hills Cop” to “Armageddon”, it’s much the same: a big star in the lead, a colorful supporting cast, plenty of chases, shoot-outs and explosions, some laughs, some one-liners, maybe a little sex, crisp cinematography, kinetic editing, add a bloated score and a soundtrack au goût du jour and voilà! You got a hit! Sure, this ain’t high art, but it’s enjoyable popcorn filmmaking. The Scott Rosenberg screenplay (more or less an update of the 70s cult film of the same name) hardly holds any surprises, the characters are stereotypes and the dialogue is tacky, but the movie remains fast, funny and exciting.
The big climactic chase scene isn’t that good, but it doesn’t really matter. The film, shot in sepia tones, looks damn good, the soundtrack blends modern acts like Moby and The Crystal Method with classic rock bands like War and ZZ Top to great effect and the cast seems to be having a good time with all the bitchin’ cars. I especially liked the sexual chemistry between Cage and Jolie, Vinnie Jones’ taciturn badass thief and the buddy cops tracking Memphis played by Delroy “Mr. Potato Head” Lindo and Timothy Olyphant. “Gone In 60 Seconds” might not be “The Matrix” or whatnot, but it’s still an enjoyable enough old fashioned romp.