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Flat Tire

Gone In 60 Seconds isn't worth the time

Ah summer...when thought flies out the window and movies become much more about packaging than substance. When having an idea that sounds good in exclamation points - Killer asteroids! Dinosaurs come alive!- is often more important than actually having a good movie. When movie critics like me make (usually futile) efforts to save the public from bad movies, which still seem guaranteed to reach record box office openings.
Gone In 60 Seconds, as you've probably guessed by now, is a bad movie. Not Godzilla bad, and not even Armageddon bad - though like that meteor movie, it too comes off the action picture manufacturing line of producer Jerry Bruckheimer - but bad nonetheless. It still got a big opening last weekend, on the names of stars Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, the exclamation point concept (Car thieves steal fifty cars in one night!), the slick ads, and even Bruckheimer's name.

The story, "rebuilt" from the 1974 cult favorite of the same name, doesn't extend much beyond the concept: Memphis Raines (Cage) is a retired car thief, determined never to go back to crime until Raymond Calitri, the obligatory crime boss/villain (Christopher Eccleston) informs him that his younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) owes him big. How can Memphis save Kip from Raymond? Steal 50 beautiful cars in three days, of course.
The whole movie starts to feel like The Blues Brothers as Memphis gets his "band" back together, a crew that includes car guru Otto (Robert Duvall), and former lover Sway (Angelina Jolie) among others. Jolie and Duvall, both Oscar winners, also both have their considerable talents wasted in Scott Rosenberg's (Con Air) banal script. The cookie-cutter father figure role of Otto could have been played by practically any older actor, although no actor, not even Duvall, can save lines like Otto's description of our villain: "He's a jackal pawing at the soft underbelly of our fair town." And Jolie barely has any lines at all, though perhaps far too many opportunities to flash her sex appeal smile. As much as any special effect, Jolie serves as eye candy here, disappointing considering how much talent, not just skin, she's flashed in her recent roles. The fact that she and Cage have almost no on-stage chemistry doesn't help either.

Despite some cookie-cutter roles and sequences however, Gone In 60 Seconds still has the chance to deliver on its immediate promise - fifty exciting car thefts - and at first, it seems as if it will take us there like a Porsche, as fast as possible, characters be damned. But the movie fails even on this count, giving us unintentionally hilarious speeches ("A brother's love is a brother's love" is about as good as the dialogue gets here), the introduction of more forgettable characters, and other such bombastic moments set to Trevor Rabin's overemotional score, in some half-hearted effort to make us care about the characters by spelling out their relations.
After all this effort to show Cage's love for Ribisi (no, you never quite believe it), along with a few distracting scenes with yet another villain (Master P as...well, Master P), the car theft is finally on, but in the blink of an eye it's over, which asks the question- couldn't the so-called "character development" been put into the process of stealing 50 cars, rather than leaving about 40 to be stolen in a three-minute montage sequence? True, some jokes hit, like one great sequence with the thieves meditating to War's "Low Rider", and we do finally get one good if .plausible car chase near the end of the movie, but basically, Gone In 60 Seconds is possibly the most forgettable blockbuster of the summer thus far. Never quite delivering the excitement it promises, director Dominic Sena's (Kalifornia) attempt at dramatic action is neither action-packed nor particularly dramatic, and is unlikely to thrill anyone except those unfamiliar or just in love with the old bag of summer movie tricks.


Gone In 60 Seconds
rated PG-13
1 hour 59 minutes

Nicolas Cage
Giovanni Ribisi
Angelina Jolie
Robert Duvall
Vinnie Jones