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High octane, low intellect
'Gone in 60 Seconds' chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected fun
Even Oscar winners want to let their hair down once in awhile and engage in mindless, meaningless fun. Cases in point are Robert Duvall (the failed country singer in "Tender Mercies," 1983) Nicolas Cage (trying to drink himself to death in "Leaving Las Vegas," 1995) and Angelina Jolie in (the disturbed young woman in "Girl, Interrupted," 1999): All are putting pedal to the metal in the action/adventure/heist flick "Gone In 60 Seconds."
The last time mega-action producer Jerry Bruckheimer, screenwriter Scott Rosenberg and Cage got together, the result was the stupendously stupid "Con Air" (1997. This time around, they got it right.
"Gone in 60 Seconds" is a remake of the 1974 B-movie of the same name by Henry Halicki. That film's budget was about a buck ninety-eight. Now, 26 years later it's bigger, better, louder and a whole lot more expensive.
Falling off the car-theft wagon
Cage plays Randall "Memphis" Raines, a reformed car thief trying to walk the straight and narrow. But his little brother Kip, played with shifty-eyed delight by Giovanni Ribisi, has gotten in deep with the wrong crowd. He's made a deal with the devil -- in this case, a vicious extortionist named Raymond Calitri, played by British actor Christopher Ecclestion. Kip has failed to make good on a deal to heist some cars and must pay with his life -- unless big brother comes out of retirement.
The cost of his baby brother's life? Fifty cars in one night. All specially ordered by a South American syndicate. All to be delivered to Calitri at a dock in Long Beach.
What's a big brother to do? Reluctantly, Memphis assembles his team from the old days.
His first call is to his mentor, Otto Halliwell -- Duvall, playing a crusty old chop-shop veteran. Next is his loyal sidekick Kenny, played by Chi McBride, followed by a goon named The Sphinx played by Vinnie Jones.
His final stop is to see Sara 'Sway' Wayland. She's gorgeous. She's sexy. She shares a past with Memphis. She's played by Jolie.
Jolie doesn't have much to do in this film -- she's mainly window dressing -- and her blond wig does most of the acting . But, oh! what dressing she is!
Jolie gets to pose the eternal question: "What do you think is more exciting? Having sex, or stealing cars?" Tough choice. Memphis doesn't want to choose: He wants both.
Bring on the clowns
But back to the chase. Little bro Kip wants in on the action and arrives with his own posse -- half-wits, one and all. Scott Caan (son of James), plays Tumbler, who's pretty but dumb. William Lee Scott plays the sweet-natured Toby, James Duval (no relation to Robert, and, besides, their names are spelled slightly differently) portrays the hapless Freb and TJ Cross -- standup-comic-turned-actor -- plays the street- wise Mirror Man.
The group's in place. On the side of law and order, and driving a BMW -- cops in Beemers? in what universe? -- is Delroy Lindo (Mr. Rose in "The Cider House Rules") playing Detective Roland Castlebeck. He's a gristled veteran cop who's knows Memphis, knows his tricks. With him is eager-beaver partner Detective Drycoff, played by Timothy Olyphant.
Bruckheimer has assembled an impressive group of newcomers for this "Gone." Paul Cameron, director of photography, and Jeff Mann, production designer, both make their feature film debuts. Director Dominic Sena, known mainly for his music videos and award-winning commercials, keeps the action on target and is impressive in this, his second feature film outing (His first effort was "Kalifornia" the 1993 film starring Brad Pitt and his then-girlfriend Juliette Lewis.).
Naturally, a viewer doesn't have to understand quantum physics to know that an action movie about car thieves is going to have plenty of chase scenes; "Gone in Sixty Seconds" does not disappoint. At the same time, it doesn't go overboard -- nice trick.
The final minutes in the film, with Cage driving a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang, are awesome. Imagine some of the chase scenes from "Bullitt" (1968) -- but backwards!
Cage again is perfect as an antihero called in to save the day. Jolie sizzles. And the action all fits into the overall story and isn't just stuck in for the hell of it. "Gone In Sixty Seconds" doesn't redefine the art form, but it should burn rubber at the box office.
"Gone in 60 Seconds" opens nationwide on Friday, June 9 and is rated PG-13. Running time is 119 minutes.
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Gone in 60 Seconds
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