Archive Review: Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) – 2/5 Stars

Carjacking is generally a good time, but Dominic Sena manages to make it unexciting in “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” a remake of the 1974 film. Aside from a good final chase, this film spends more time talking about stealing cars than actually doing it. At the least you’d expect a two-hour showcase of some beautiful automobiles, but you get cheated out of that too. Instead, you get a cast full of unfunny hollow characters running into problems trying to steal cars, and when they finally do, they last, well, sixty seconds.

Sena, whose credits include working on Janet Jackson videos, is interested in ineffective style choices. It’s expected in a movie about grand theft auto that there’s going to be excessive glitz and a lot of visual dressing up of an average story line, but instead of adding exciting flare, Sena chooses to set things on fire in unwarranted places and set to cheesy electronic “let’s wear leather and get in and out of cars” music.

The story is pretty straightforward and the plot moves quickly despite a few holes. In it, Nicholas Cage, who’s notorious for picking all kinds of projects good and terrible, stars as retired car thief Memphis Raines, who is brought out of retirement when his kid brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisy) gets in trouble with a big overseas car broker. The broker threatens to kill Kip if Memphis doesn’t steal an order of 50 cars within three days. Memphis assembles a team of quirky thieves young and old to save his brother’s life while a pair of detectives follow his trail.

Infamous ’90s action producer Jerry Bruckheimer has the right idea in getting this movie made, but the team of Sena and writer Scott Rosenberg (who wrote the Cage thriller “Con Air”) just doesn’t get the job done. It would have been perfectly acceptable for “Gone in Sixty Seconds” to be a high-adrenaline film for action junkies with a flimsy plot, maybe even hyper-masculinized, but we don’t even get that. There’s a great opportunity for the story to bring us into the world of car boosting, but we learn nothing about how a car is stolen other than brief images and dialogue. I don’t think they had reason to believe everyone was going to start stealing cars with that information. 

But if nothing else were wrong, there’s still no tension or sense of what’s at stake. Kip, for some reason, is really cool about everything and it’s his life is on the line, so if he doesn’t care, why should we? The brother tension between him and Memphis is simply that, not a developed subplot by any means, nor is the sexual tension between Memphis and Sway, Angelina Jolie’s character, who’s reasons for helping with the mission appear to be to avert sexism. Robert Duvall and Chi McBride also play two-dimensional roles. Apparently the fact that Kip might die (even though he doesn’t care) is good enough for everybody.

“Gone in Sixty Seconds” is mostly a predictable and conventional story line, but it’s effectively so, helping keep our attention despite the film’s complete lack of an edge. It gives just enough to convince its audience something exciting is coming and meets that expectation with average marks. But I don’t even think a car-lover would find this more than marginally entertaining.

2/5 Stars

Directed by: Dominic Sena
Written by: Scott Rosenberg, H.B. Halicki (1974 film)
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Giovanni Ribisy, Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie


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