So Many Cars, So Little Time
Gone in Sixty Seconds, an action film starring Nicolas Cage, capitalizes on Americaís love affair with the automobile. Cage plays Memphis Raines, a reformed master car thief pulled back into the game to save his brotherís life. When Memphis was a practicing "booster," he did it because of his love for cars, not just for the money. He even calls his favorite car, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500, by the name "Eleanor" and whispers tenderly to it, like Romeo wooing Juliet.
Oscar-winner Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) makes the most of this sympathetic role. Working with a group of children in the opening sequence, his Memphis comes across immediately as a warm and likeable guy, so itís understandable when he drops everything to help Kip, his estranged younger brother. As played by the versatile Giovanni Ribisi (from Boiler Room and The Other Sister), Kip is not an easy person to love. With such a dark and sullen attitude, itís a miracle anyone cares what happens to him. But Memphis cares deeply. Although Kip thinks big brother deserted him years ago, Memphis left only because their mother (Grace Zabriskie) asked him to. She hoped this would keep Kip from a life of crime. It didnít.
Now, after Kip has botched a major auto theft job, Memphis must finish it for him or the evil Mr. Calitri (Christopher Eccleston) will crush him like a piece of scrap in one of his junkyard cars. What is that job? Stealing fifty cars in a three day period! And not just any old cars. Thereís a list of specific models needed. To accomplish this, Memphis rounds up his former crew. Complications abound, of course, not the least of which involves how to fool two detectives (Delroy Lindo and Timothy Olyphant) who are snooping around. When Memphis decides to do the job all in one night, the stage is set for big-time action. Right?
Wrong! Nothing very exciting happens after that. Memphis and his ex-girlfriend (Angelina Jolie) do come close to making love in the front seat of a car, a dog swallows some important Mercedes keys, and a lengthy car chase zooms through heavy traffic. But this update of the 1974 cult classic lacks that in-your-face, fast-paced action of producer Jerry Bruckheimerís other films such as The Rock, Con Air, and Armageddon.
Gone in Sixty Seconds also wastes the talents of Oscar winners Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted) and Robert Duvall (Tender Mercies). Jolie is little more than a token woman in Memphisí crew, and Duvall, as Memphisí mentor, appears in too few scenes. In addition, the filmís glorification of auto theft is a bit disturbing.
Most troubling of all, where are the close-ups of those 50 fabulous cars? Maybe director Dominic Sena (Kalifornia) felt it would take too much time to show them, but thereís always the split-screen technique. If William Shakespeare were alive today, he would have to remind Sena, "The carís the thing!"
(Released by Touchstone Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films and rated "PG-13" for violence, sexuality, and language.)