Racing Movie Month! "Gone in 60 Seconds" Review

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A retired master car thief must come back to the industry and steal 50 cars with his crew in one night to save his brother's life. Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall and Giovanni Ribisi.
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Rating: PG-13
Length: 118 minutes
Release Date: June 9, 2000
Directed by: Dominic Sena
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

"Gone in 60 Seconds," starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie, has the same title as a similar film made in 1974, but other than the name and a few plot points, the films are wildly dissimilar. "Gone in 60 Seconds" brought together the popular duo of Jerry Bruckheimer as producer and Cage as the starring actor, which is a formula that worked well in two other action films: "The Rock" and "Con Air."

Nicolas Cage plays a genius car thief named Memphis Raines operating in the Los Angeles area. The title of "Gone in 60 Seconds" refers to how quickly he can steal a car. However, in the beginning of the film, he has recently retired at the request of his mother, who is afraid that his younger brother intends to follow in his footsteps. Kip, played by Giovanni Ribsi, decides to be a thief anyway. However, he is not nearly as good as his brother, and in one particular theft, he simultaneously leads the police to a car chop shop and enrages a vicious British crime boss, who is played by Christopher Eccleston. This further leads to Raines having to rescue his brother, who is unable to meet the crime lord's conditions and is subsequently threatened with death.

This begins the meat of the story with Raines back in action and compiling a list of fellow thieves, including those played by Angelina Jolie and Robert Duvall. Meanwhile, the LAPD finds out that Raines is back in town and begins investigating. Cage's character is much the same as his characters from "Con Air" and "The Rock." They are as tough as nails, but they are more or less decent guys. Jolie has very little screen time for the majority of the movie, but her presence is enough to remind the audience of her impact.

The challenge from the crime lord is to steal 50 cars in 72 hours so that Raines' brother is good to go. The LAPD detectives begin to figure out what cars Raines is targeting and stake out three of them. The main detective, played by Delroy Lindo, figures out that Raines plans to save the iconic 1967 Mustang for last. The car is code-named Eleanor and is one of the plot points from the 1974 film. As Raines plans to avoid police surveillance by stealing three different cars from what he originally plans, the detective decides to leave him to it so that he can catch him in the act of stealing Eleanor.

This particular plot point is one of the more outlandish in the movie since it leaves Raines free to steal 49 other cars, but it is necessary to build up the major chase scene. Up until the point that Raines steals Eleanor, the car chases are fairly few and far between. Raines steals Eleanor, and the major car chase ensues through the lush setting of Long Beach. This is where the film finally shines as it hits cruise control with a fabulous chase scene. The chase reaches its climax when Raines takes the car airborne over traffic on a bridge. The scene is appropriately wild through its inclusion of a helicopter and an amazing stunt jump.

The chase further causes Raines to be late for the crime lord's deadline, and he is set to pay the price. Raines argues with the crime lord over the condition of the car and the botched deadline. The crime lord decides that Raines has failed, and has his men prepare to kill Raines and destroy the car. Eccleston is believably vicious as the crime lord in question, and the confrontation scene is a tense one with plenty of sparks and catwalk climbing. However, his plans are interrupted by the LAPD detectives, Raines' brother and others. Raines ends up killing the crime lord by shoving him over a railing. The detective finds out why Raines stole the cars and then lets him go on the condition that Raines reveals where the stolen cars are hidden.

At the end, Kip gives Raines the keys to another old Mustang that he can restore himself. Raines is initially dubious, and he thinks that his brother stole the car. However, Kip explains that he sold his car chopper to purchase it. The final scene has Cage and Jolie driving off in the old car, which quickly stalls.

The final half of the film made interesting use of sepia tone and underlighting, especially in the car chase scene. The skies of Los Angeles where the film was shot appeared to be dark and stormy in several shots, and the audience is unable to distinguish this effect from a realistic capturing of the sky or a product of lighting design. This aspect of the movie contributes to its hardening tone, which helps build suspense for its exciting conclusion.

"Gone in 60 Seconds" is the type of action movie that works well as a popcorn flick or Saturday matinee. Cage is entertaining and likable, and the movie delivers an impressive and lively show.

Rating: 3 out of 5