Given the presence of Angelina Jolie--and how prominent her presence is
in the film's advertising campaign--one would be led to believe that
_Gone_in_Sixty_Seconds_ is the first Jerry Bruckheimer-produced actioner
with a strong female presence. With Jolie, a wild child who is just as
ballsy, if not more, than any male counterpart, Bruckheimer has a female
star that he could run with. If only he could see it that way.
No, not even the force of nature that is Angelina can combat the rampant
testosterone in _Sixty_, a reworking of the 1974 film of the same name.
But that is but one way the film is typical Bruckheimer. There are all
the glossy visuals and stylish cutting; there are the awkwardly forced
moments of "emotion"; there is a pumped-up soundtrack scoring accordingly
amped-up action scenes; there is a talented cast that is wildly
overqualified to do this type of popcorn fodder. This time around,
however, the surface thrills that it does deliver aren't quite enough.
Nicolas Cage stars as Randall "Memphis" Raines, a reformed car thief who
is forced back into action when his younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi)
runs afoul of the evil car thief Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston).
In order to spare Kip's life, Memphis must steal 50 cars within 72
Of course, Memphis and his crew don't strike until the the last night,
so we can have the familiar race against time finale. As such,
_Gone_in_Sixty_Seconds_ doesn't start to deliver the anticipated action
until well into the third act. While director Dominic Sena ably shoots
and stages it with all the heavy style that one associates with a
Bruckheimer production, the climactic car chase cannot erase the memory
of the draggy and often tedious two acts that precede the mayhem.
The audience's interest is supposed to be held by two things during the
film's first acts. First is the obligatory group of eccentric supporting
players. Among Memphis' partners in grand theft auto are mentor Otto
(Robert Duvall); former partner Atley (Will Patton); wisecracking buddy
Donny (Chi McBride); silent muscleman the Sphinx (Vinnie Jones); ex-flame
Sara, a.k.a. "Sway" (Jolie, in an absolute throwaway of a role); and
Kip's gang of young techies and lunkheads (Scott Caan, James Duval, TJ
Cross, and William Lee Scott). This is indeed a quirky bunch, but not
necessarily a colorful one. Aside from McBride (who has some good
lines), Duvall (still a commanding presence), and Jolie (alluring eye
candy), the group is uninteresting at best and annoying at worst.
Second, one is supposed to be engaged by the purported emotional
connections between the characters. Kip only wants to be accepted and
respected by his brother; Memphis wants to prove to Sway that his leaving
her was for the best. But anyone who's seen a Bruckheimer knows that
pyrotechnics are his strong suit, not quiet moments--and when they do
come, they are laughably heavy-handed and jarring (witness, for example,
the conclusions of _Con_Air_ and _Armageddon_). Sena and writer Scott
Rosenberg don't do anything to change that track record; if possible,
he's managed to carve a new low with the jaw-droppingly maudlin final
encounter between Memphis and the cop (Delroy Lindo, great even in this
ridiculous context) who's chasing him.
Somehow, however, I get the feeling that real problems such as these
will be lost on the casual viewer. The screening I attended was
sweetened with non-press people, and I overheard many of them raving
about the film afterward; one even said, "I haven't been this entertained
by a film in a long time." Either that guy doesn't get out much, or
(more likely) _Gone_in_Sixty_Seconds_ will be another summer success for
Bruckheimer--actual quality be damned.