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Non-Review Review: Gone in Sixty Seconds

Hmm… A perfectly adequate action movie. Nothing more, nothing less. Certainly not a top-of-the-line model.


Hardly an original model...

This takes me back to a time when geeks weren’t Hollywood’s target demographic. Or at least computer and sci-fi geeks. This is a movie for people who lvoe cars. I’m not quite sure how a movie about a band of thieves who hijack and steal other people’s cars is a movie intended to please car fanatics everywhere, but I’m not a member of that secret club. Still, a movie which focuses on a bunch of people who probably intend to steal my pricelessly restored antique car would probably sound like more a cautionary tale than something to get excited about.

But I’ll stick to my area of expertise. The movie is solidly and brainlessly entertaining. I don’t mean that in a condescending or snide way. I mean it in a straight-forward and honest way. If the premise sounds exciting to you, it will probably entertain you. It certainly delivers on its car-stealing quota. If you’re looking for a refined or sophisticated action movie, this is not for you.

The movie – a remake – has designs on being a modern noir tale, but it’s just too light and fuzzy to be taken in anyway seriously. Though its rag-tag band of grand theft auto fans may be nominal criminals, the movie makes it absolutely clear that they are all as cute as buttons. They’ll steal your car, but they probably won’t hurt you. When one member of the gang gets ready to take out an inquisitive cop, the rest of the gang look at him as if knocking the officer unconscious is a morally reprensible action. And yet stealing (what in some cases is priceless) person property isn’t?

The actors here are far better than the material deserves and – though none of them fire on full throttle, to mix metaphors – they help keep the movie going through some of its more ridiculous contrivencies or plotholes. Robert Duvall doesn’t get enough work in his old age. Some would argue he never got enough work to begin with – he’s a man of fantastic talent. Here, he simply grumbles and lectures in a slightly above average way. Nicholas Cage isn’t at his action movie zenith – that happened in The Rock – but he clearly has a lot more energy at here than he has had in most of his other action flick roles. Angelina Jolie is a reasonable “action girl”. Delry Lindo is in cookie-cutter veteran cop mode and Timopthy Olyphant is in cookie-cutter rookie cop mode. And so on.

The film is excessively stupid at times. Some of the events that occur in the space of the movie – and the characters’ reactions to them – are just crazy. And not so much in a “that would never happen way” as much as a “that’s just wrong” sort of way. Ever single step the movie makes is carefully taken from the big ook of action movie clichés. Want an animal eating a vital macguffin? We got it. Want one of the team getting a gunshot wound? We got that too. Want the cop almost interrupting something incriminating, but missing it by the narrowest margin? That’s the next scene.

The movie is juvenile. It’s an adolescent fantasy. The idle musing of a 12-year-old kid thinking how cool it would be to professional ‘jack cars and taht people who enjoy woodwork are so much sadder than those who enjoy rebuilding car engines. But a lot of movies are juvenile fantasy. And the movie – within the very narrow goals which it sets for itself – succeeds. Some sequences get your pulse racing. Some of the immature jokes get you laughing. Some don’t, of course, but some do.

Like the car itself, you know what you’re getting into and you know the ride that it is going to take you on. To complain that it’s unoriginal or uncreative misses the point. Like those cars manufactured from those parts, it’s designed to be put together from these still-in-use components. It’s a floor model, it’s a car you see on the street every day. that doesn’t mean that it won’t do what you want it to, or that you won’t feel the engine hum when you sit into it. It does mean, however, that it isn’t going to fly you to the moon or take you anywhere spectacular.

One Response

  1. You’re completely right. Perfectly adequate, nothing more nothing less. But Angelina Jolie didn’t hurt.

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