Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Studio Line: Touchstone Pictures - Ice Cold, Hot Wired.

Academy Award winners Nicolas Cage (The Rock) and sexy Angelina Jolie (The Bone Collector) ride an unstoppable wave of speed and adrenaline in this hot, edgy action hit from high-octane producer Jerry Bruckheimer (Armageddon). Legendary car booster Randall "Memphis" Raines (Cage) thought he'd left the fast lane behind--until he's forced out of retirement in a do-or-die effort to save his kid brother (Giovanni Ribisi, Saving Private Ryan) from the wrath of an evil mobster! But with speed to burn and attitude to spare, Memphis hastily re-assembles his old crew -- a rogues' gallery including Academy Award winner Robert Duvall (A Civil Action) -- and floors it in a full-throttle race to pull off the ultimate car heist: 50 exotic beauties in 24 hours -- and the cops are already on to them! Directed by Dominic Sena and written by Scott Rosenberg, Gone In 60 Seconds is an action-packed thrill ride that comes out fast and never slows down.

Director: Dominic Sena
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Duvall, Delroy Lindo, Will Patton, Chi McBride, Scott Caan, Christopher Eccleston, Vinnie Jones, Timothy Olyphant
Box Office: Budget: $90 million. Opening Weekend: $25.336 million (3006 screens). Gross: $101.643 million.
DVD: Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9; audio English DD 5.1, Spanish & French DD 5.1; subtitles Spanish; closed-captioned; single sided - dual layered; 32 chapters; rated PG-13; 118 min.; $29.99; street date 12/5/00.
Supplements: Exclusive Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes Created For This DVD; "Action Overload" Highlight Reel Featuring Spectacular Adrenaline-Pumping Scenes -- Music Video-Style; Conversations With Jerry Bruckheimer On The Role Of The Producer; The Cult Music Video; Theatrical Trailer.
Purchase: DVD | Score soundtrack - Trevor Rabin

Picture/Sound/Extras: A-/A/C+

As regularly as the tides, it’s absolutely inevitable that each summer will present another big-budget blockbuster from producer Jerry Bruckheimer. What would that noisy season be without him? Of course, plenty of his movies appear at other times of the year, but his work seems particularly well-suited for summer.

Surprisingly, Bruckheimer skipped that season in 1999 after the success of Armageddon the prior year; that was the first summer since 1994 without one of his flicks. However, he came back this year with Gone in Sixty Seconds, a remake of a low-budget 1974 film.

The story follows the misadventures of the Raines brothers, Randall “Memphis” (Nicolas Cage) and Kip (Giovanni Ribisi). Memphis is a reformed car thief, but younger brother Kip has become involved in the family business and has gotten himself into hot water. When this problem arises, Memphis volunteers to take on an apparently-impossible task to save his brother: they’ll steal 50 exotic cars in 72 hours.

Although the storyline is different, Gone is really structured identically to flicks like Armageddon. We get the set-up and then we meet the protagonist’s wacky crew of help. They’re always great at what they do, and they’re always quirky. It’s part of the Bruckheimer formula, and he isn’t about to abandon it now.

Another aspect of that tradition concerns the actors. Bruckheimer hires top-notch talent, and Gone is no exception to that rule. In addition to Cage and Ribisi, we find Oscar-winners like Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall. Add solid professionals like Delroy Lindo and Will Patton and you find the usual terrific Bruckheimer cast.

Absolutely nothing about Gone stands out from the formula. Director Dominic Sena is new to the Bruckheimer fold, but little about his style differentiates him from peers like Michael Bay or Simon West. We find the same slick visuals and rapid-fire editing that typifies these pictures. The movie cranks along at a hyperactive pace that leaves no room for any character development or subtlety; it’s just a slam-bang rollercoaster ride.

And you know what? That’s fine with me. Many grouse about the formulaic thrills of Bruckheimer movies, and I agree to a degree. The system is so deeply entrenched at this point that it’s almost impossible for any of his films to become truly special; they’re uniformly entertaining and exciting, but they never rise above that level to be really noteworthy.

Once you accept that limitation, however, you can at least be happy with the fact that you know you’ll get a solidly-entertaining program from Bruckheimer. Is this trade-off acceptable? That’s for you to decide. While I know that a Bruckheimer movie won’t ever be a great action flick, I do like the fact that I can count on these works to be fun, frivolous entertainment.

Gone in Sixty Seconds fits that mold perfectly. It’s a thrilling but brainless experience that you’ll like enjoy thoroughly while you watch it but then forget completely as soon as the credits end. Whether this is good or bad is up to you. As far as I’m concerned, I accept it and have no great problems with it. The movie won’t take you to any heights, but it won’t disappoint you either, and there’s something to be said for that kind of consistency.

The DVD:

Gone In Sixty Seconds appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although it contains a few flaws, for the most part the movie looked terrific.

Sharpness seemed consistently excellent. Even during the widest shots, I detected no signs of soft or hazy images. The film maintained exceptional crispness and accuracy from start to finish. Moiré effects popped up on occasion - due to various crates and blinds - but jagged edges presented no concerns, and artifacts from the anamorphic downconversion on my 4X3 TV seemed minor. Print flaws were fairly rare but seemed more prevalent than I’d expect of such a recent film. I witnessed occasional speckles and grit throughout the movie. These aren’t heavy at any time, but they appeared excessive for a picture of this vintage.

Colors were cleanly and smoothly reproduced. Director Dominic Sena came from the world of music videos, and that influence appears in the movie’s color schemes. We find lots of moody lighting; various greens, blues, reds and yellows dominate the proceedings. The DVD replicates them nicely, without any signs of bleeding or noise; the hues seemed clear and vibrant. Black levels were equally solid; they appeared deep and rich, and shadow detail looked appropriately heavy but never excessively opaque. All in all, the movie presented a fine visual experience.

Even better was the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track of Gone. This sucker kicked into higher gear during the opening credits and rarely let up after that time. All five channels offered a tremendous amount of discrete information throughout the film. The audio placed all sounds correctly in the proper locations and blended them together neatly. When cars move across speakers, I heard no awkwardness or forced qualities; the vehicles panned smoothly and effectively. The track provided consistently engaging and involving sound at all times, but it really took off during the film’s climactic car chase; that’s when it delivered everything I’d want from it.

Audio quality seemed similarly strong. Dialogue appeared crisp and distinct with no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Music was dynamic and bold and seemed accurately reproduced; the songs and score all were clear and bright. Effects appeared realistic - sometimes hyperrealistic, really - and lacked distortion or other flaws. Bass was deep and taut and added a solid punch to the package. Ultimately, the soundtrack to Gone offered exactly the kind of stellar experience I expected from it.

Though it’s not a packed special edition, Gone does present a few supplements, most of which are brief video featurettes. In the “Jerry Bruckheimer” section we find two pieces. “Conversations With…” is a seven minute and 25 second overview of his career and producing philosophy. Like his movies, it’s a glossy piece, but it makes for a mildly interesting primer.

The Bruckheimer area also includes a biography. This text is quite detailed and offers much more information than the average listing; it even discusses a slew of upcoming Bruckheimer vehicles.

“Action Overload” is an unusual piece. It’s 90 seconds worth of crashes and excitement from the film. Basically, if your attention span is too short to stick with all of Gone, just check this out instead.

“The Big Chase” examines a number of different segments of the film’s climax through some additional featurettes. This area splits into “L.A. Streets” (five minutes, five seconds), “Naval Yard” (three minutes, 35 seconds), and “The Big Jump” (three minutes, 10 seconds). These pieces are fairly glossy and flashy but they’re interesting and they offer a good look at the technical challenges posed by the story.

“0 to 60” provides a general look at the movie. It’s little more than the typical promotional puff piece; I found the four-minute program to be watchable but unspectacular.

“Wild Rides” looks at how the actors trained to drive in the film. I thought this was a fun piece because it focused on something unusual and showed how much of the work was done by the actors. Most of the five minute and 15 second program concentrated on how Cage did his own stunts, but we get reflections from the others as well.

“Stars on the Move” breaks down into additional featurettes which look at the actors and their roles. We find individual pieces that focus on Nicolas Cage (95 seconds), Giovanni Ribisi (100 seconds), Scott Caan (35 seconds), TJ Cross (55 seconds), William Lee Scott (55 seconds), Robert Duvall (85 seconds), Angelina Jolie (85 seconds), Vinnie Jones (100 seconds), Chi McBride (60 seconds), Delroy Lindo (120 seconds), and Christopher Eccleston (125 seconds). These are superficial but mildly interesting overviews.

Two addition pieces complete the extras. We find the film’s excellent theatrical trailer plus a music video for the Cult’s “Painted On My Heart”. Here this washed-up Eighties band gets to try to pull an Aerosmith with their rendition of a treacly Diane Warren clunker. Shockingly, the video uses the usual song-from-a-movie formula: film clips interspersed with shots of the band as the melodramatically lip-synch. Ugh!

As is typical for DVDs from Buena Vista, Gone opens with ads for some other films. We get a trailer for Coyote Ugly plus promos for the DVDs of Shanghai Noon and Mission to Mars. The snippets are easily skipped; just hit “menu” and that’s that.

Gone In Sixty Seconds won’t win any awards for originality, but it nonetheless provides a solidly entertaining and exciting experience. The DVD offers generally terrific picture and sound plus some superficial but interesting extras. Fans of glossy, big-budget action films will want to give it a look.

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