Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Gone in 60 Seconds

By Marc Savlov

JUNE 12, 2000: 

D: Dominic Sena; with Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Duvall, Delroy Lindo, Will Patton, Chi McBride, Scott Caan, James Duval, Christopher Eccleston. (PG-13, 119 min.)

There was a period back in the Eighties when Nicolas Cage could do no wrong. Before the immensely talented actor somehow became enmeshed in disastrously bad films such as 8MM, Con Air, and Kiss of Death, he appeared in some of the best American movies of the latter part of the century, films like Valley Girl, Wild at Heart, Birdy, and Vampire's Kiss, all of which showed of his impressive range and an oddball charm entirely new to Hollywood. That has vanished of late, replaced by rote tough-guy roles (Scorsese's Bringing Out the Dead notwithstanding) and a general feeling that perhaps the actor's best work is behind him. At 36 years of age I seriously doubt that ­ Cage is too, well, cagey to settle into crap mode without a fight ­ but this new car-heist film from producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Top Gun, The Rock) can't be making things any easier on the actor's fans, myself included. Sena, who directed the intriguing Kalifornia in 1993, may be the first legitimate director to have crafted a 119-minute trailer. For all its many nods to characters' backstories and shiny, smashing automobiles, the fact is that if you've seen this film's turbo-charged, maniacally edited preview reel, then you've pretty much seen the film itself. It's not a matter of having already glimpsed all the best parts, a problem occurring with more and more frequency these days (as studios jump to out-dazzle us months before the finished product is in sight). This is something more, and again something less, simultaneously. This is a non-film. Let me say right up front, I am a fan of that dizzying breed of summer action film that knocks the wind out of your sails, topping itself again and again in the course of a single viewing. I loved Speed. I even liked the Bruckheimer-produced Armageddon. But Gone in 60 Seconds is such a flimsy little thing, full of flying debris and little else. The plot ­ retired car thief Memphis Raines (Cage) must come home to reassemble his gang and pull one last caper (50 cars in 24 hours, no less) to save his younger brother Kip (Ribisi) from certain death at the hands of Christopher Eccleston's bad guy ­ is so unashamedly over-the-top that the film eventually ends up playing like a parody of the genre, although it's painfully clear that this was nobody's intention from the get-go. Cage is in full-action whacko mode, psyching up his crew (including a pitifully underused Jolie as his ex-flame, a woefully underused Duval as a brain-dead henchman, and a glaringly underused Caan as ... some guy good with computers, I guess) by playing War's "Low Rider" before going out on the job. There are no surprises here, the kiss of death for an action film of this type. Long before Scott Michael Rosenberg's script plays out, you know exactly where it's going, and not even stone-faced Cage can keep it all from coming undone. As for the film's hallmark chase scenes, the final 30 minutes score well, but the 90-plus before are so substandardly predictable that it's hard to care. The audience I caught this with seemed to enjoy the proceedings well enough ­ which just makes me wonder if any of them had ever seen The French Connection 2 or Bullitt before. Gone in 60 Seconds: Is that a promise?

1.5 Stars


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