Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:58 - Released 6/9/00

Gone In 60 Seconds is the kind of movie that makes you embarrassed for the actors. You watch it in the same way you watch a bully pick on the school geek; you cringe with sympathetic humiliation, you don't want to be witness to the ugly spectacle, but you're entranced by some kind of morbid fascination, knowing the next line will make you groan even louder. This film is supposed to be sexy and action-packed; instead, it's vapid, ill-conceived, and gut-wrenchingly pretentious.

Gone is loosely based on the 1974 German film Die Blegh-Piraten, which was more about smashing cars than stealing them (93 cars were reportedly crashed within its 97-minute running time). Perhaps that film's charm was based on the fact that it didn't try to be intelligent. Written by Scott Michael Rosenberg, creator of High Fidelity (good) and Disturbing Behavior (bad), and Toby Halicki, who had a part in writing the 1974 smash-up version, Gone tries to convince us that "Memphis" Raines (Cage) and his crew are intelligent, glamorous, professional car thieves, full of wit and savvy, but Rosenberg's script and Dominic Sena's sophomoric directing hamstring any credibility the actors can muster.

Memphis and his whole gang, which includes Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie, and Will Patton, have gotten out of the car-stealing racket and gone clean. But when Memphis's younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) gets himself in too deep, they must all go back into the business to save him. Super-baddie Raymond Colitri (Christopher Eccleston) has ordered 50 cars, including everything from reconditioned vintage sports models to brand-new minivans. If he doesn't get them in 3 days, Kip will be executed. The standard contract. None of Cage's reformed criminals seems very reluctant to jump back into a life of crime, but they each say a few unconvincing lines about having retired before they start the job. Soon they're all scouting out the cars, giving them women's names (ugh), and not only do they have the deadline to deal with, but they are constantly fending off attacks from another car-theft mob and eluding Memphis's old nemesis, Det. Roland Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo).

One thing kept crossing my mind during this scenario: do the cars still count if you total them before they're shipped off to the buyer? Being shot at, driving them through plate glass windows, jumping them over a quarter-mile-long line of stopped traffic . . . doesn't this kind of behavior decrease their possible selling price? But I can understand why the actors weren't paying attention to their driving — they were probably too horrified at the stupidity of the script to watch the road. Okay, okay, I can admit there are some fun chases, but talking to dashboards, stroking fenders, using War's "Low Rider" as a meditation piece, and reguarly referring to the automobiles as "ladies"? Please. I was getting carsick after 20 minutes, and I was sitting still.

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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