One night in Los Angeles, Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) has a mission to carry out: he must steal a sports car for the gang he is working for. He takes his two friends and they realise this car is still in the showroom, watching aghast as Kip fetches a brick and throws it through the window and lifts the keys from the safe, then climbs into the driver's seat and off they go, right through another full-length window. He does get back to the boss Calitri (Christopher Eccleston), but has a nasty surprise waiting, one which will drag his brother Memphis (Nicolas Cage), an ex-car thief himself, back into the criminal fold when he has to rescue Kip from certain death by agreeing to steal a further fifty cars, just as ordered.
The nineties had been good to superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer, or at least they had worked themselves out after the premature demise of his business partner, the hard-living Don Simpson; for many that would have been an insurmountable obstacle, but he hadn't let it diminish his workload and his eighties sensibility of excessive action movies worked out very well for the sort of entertainment the audiences of the following decade wanted. Lavish, packed with glamour and incident, it seemed they practically made themselves, but once the year 2000 dawned it seemed he lost his populist touch outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Or rather, he retained that touch, but mostly transferred it to television.
Therefore Gone in 60 Seconds, a remake of the cult seventies car chase effort, represented something of an end of an era for Bruckheimer in the cinema at any rate, as aside from the occasional Bad Boys sequel it was the billion episodes of police procedural TV that took up most of his time. Action movies continued regardless, but his trademark trappings looked out of place in a landscape of superheroes, so it would be nice to observe that this last hurrah was a strong representative of a golden age in action now progressed elsewhere, yet alas it was not the case, as the overall impression on offer was not pulse-pounding excitement and more ho hum tedium that did not come close to delivering on the promised car chases.
H.B. Halicki's original boasted a vehicular pursuit that expanded to fill the whole of the latter half of its running time, but you didn't get that here as this was too keen to stuff the movie with extraneous characters to give the appearance of something happening. Angelina Jolie, who showed up sporting blonde dreadlocks and cobalt blue contact lenses, was given the line where she asked Cage what he thought was more exciting sex or stealing cars, and on this evidence it certainly wasn't stealing cars as there was a curious lack of danger to the plot, that in spite of a selection of cops and gangsters out to take Raines down, and not because of his pretentious nickname that was presumably supposed to be evocative of the weather Elvis Presley used to enjoy. Nope, the feeling was here that it was very difficult to give a shit about any of them.
Obviously there are an abundance of films where the protagonists are criminals we are intended to feel some sympathy for, but the loveable rogues here were mostly loved by themselves, leaving it none too easy to want to be in their company for the full two hours Gone in 60 Seconds took to unfold. Much of that time was director Dominic Sena winding up his cast and letting them go, all given a party piece to play out, but this diluted what should have been a lean car film and bloated it up with unnecessary elements to the point that the action was almost an afterthought, unforgiveable in a Bruckheimer production. Yes, the sports models were there, but seeing them nicked fifty times over did not an adequate diversion make, especially with this resistible lot doing the nicking. Cage could do this sort of thing in his sleep by this point, his occasional ker-ay-zee behaviour crowbarred in as if he was a clown at a children's party rather than a he-man hero, and the other actors failed to offer much support. Filmed in the same piss-yellow photography throughout, it's little wonder this has been forgotten about in comparison to its contemporaries. Music by Trevor Rabin.