GONE IN 60 SECONDS - Blu-ray review

Gone in 60 Seconds provides some thrills, but too often it feels as if the film's transmission is stuck in neutral.

James Plath's picture

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer never met a blockbuster he didn't love, but for every "National Treasure" there's a "Coyote Ugly." With a cast that includes Nicolas Cage, Robert Duvall, and Giovanni Ribisi, you'd expect this action-caper flick about "boosting" cars to register a little higher on the hit meter than it does. But some of the dialogue in "Gone in 60 Seconds" is just plain silly, the situations can seem far-fetched, and Angelina Jolie is painfully obvious as nothing more than window-dressing. And, as it turns out, watching people steal 50 cars in four days turns out to be not nearly as exciting as you'd think.

The facile thing for a reviewer to say about "Gone in 60 Seconds" is that the title pretty much describes your interest level. But that would be putting cleverness ahead of truth, and the truth is that Act One is interesting enough. Like "Ocean's Eleven" and "The Blues Brothers," it's all about rounding up the old gang for a new job. In this case, legendary car thief Randall "Memphis" Raines (Cage) is forced to get back into the business again after his kid brother, Kip (Ribisi) gets in over his head with a new buyer in town. And Raymond Vincent Calitri (Christopher Eccleston) gives Raines four days to make good on little brother's failures by delivering 50 cars to him from a wish list. "The cars are on the boat, or your brother's in the coffin," Calitri tells him.

Frankly, I don't know why they run the day and time in subscript to emphasize the clock ticking away, because there doesn't seem to be much urgency. This group fritters away three days doing this and that, so why should the audience feel any tension? And there are no heinous reminders to make them try a little harder . . . or faster. Yes, there are some nifty action scenes involving cars and car chases and stunt driving, but not nearly as much as you'd expect. It's like "The Dukes of Hazzard" at times, with a matter-of-fact yee-haw tone that takes away from the thriller rather than adding to the tension. The cheesy, techno music doesn't help much, nor does a script that takes you from zero to 100 in 60 seconds, and the other way around. One minute our hero is being whomped by baddies, and the next minute it's a different scene and a quiet moment, as if the previous encounter never happened. Maybe that schizoid feel is the result of screenwriter Scott Rosenberg's having worked on more sensitive and slow-paced films like "High Fidelity," but you can't hang the whole thing on him. Director Dominic Sena's only claim to fame before "Gone in 60 Seconds" was directing music videos for Janet Jackson and Sting, and this has a similarly visual-but-choppy feel to it.

Cage, Ribisi and Duval, in a small part, do their best, but that's tough when you have moments like the scene where Memphis is going to get back into the "game" and he takes his black leather jacket out of a box as if it were a gun or suit of armor, holds it up, and declares, "I am a bad man." But things are slow to develop. Six hours before deadline, not a lot has happened. Despite an apparently shared history, a romantic tension between Memphis and Sway (Jolie) feels like just another shallow diversion that keeps these guys from doing what we want them to do: just STEAL the damned things, will you? But then we're reminded that you have to be careful what you wish for, because when the stealing starts, there's a startling familiarity about it all, and we don't see as much of those 50 car thefts as we'd have thought.

As for the situations themselves, this is supposed to be in a crowded, urban area, and there never seems to be any traffic except for an occasional realistic scene or two-just these guys in their stolen cars driving merrily-but-crazily along. The cops don't seem to have any more serious crimes to solve than grand theft auto, but Detective Roland Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo) pursues Memphis as if he were the White Whale. You can't say the same for the other cops. When one of them is in high-speed pursuit, the actor's face and body language (I won't name names) makes it clear that he's doing this in front of a blue or green screen, because he looks about as tense as somebody pulling into a parking space at a Dunkin' Donuts.

"A brother's love is a brother's love," says Detective Castlebeck, who's been in pursuit of this gang ever since he saw Memphis back in town again and heard through the grapevine about his brother's troubles. But that's about as profound as it gets in "Gone in 60 Seconds," which is mediocre at best and comical at times when, unfortunately, it isn't trying to be.

The video is 1080p High Def presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. As with the other Buena Vista Blu-ray releases, the picture quality has been consistently good. There's a good amount of detail, good contrast, and good color saturation, which should please fans of the film.

The audio has also been consistently good, with the English 5.1 uncompressed (48kHz/24-bit) PCM option the rockin'est, and the English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround decent. Subtitles are in English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Surprisingly (and I say that because the film only runs 118 minutes), there's not much in the way of extras-only a behind-the-scenes look at "The Big Jump" which shows how much was real and how much was added digitally of the main stunt on the bridge. I still don't understand the "movie showcase" which offers "instant access to select movie scenes that showcase the ultimate in high definition picture and sound," but a collection of scenes from the movie is also offered as a bonus feature.

Bottom Line:
"Gone in 60 Seconds" isn't as bad as some have claimed, but there isn't as much action as you'd expect, and the pacing isn't nearly breakneck enough to sustain the illusion of having hopped aboard a wild ride. "Gone in 60 Seconds" provides some thrills, but too often it feels as if the film's transmission is stuck in neutral.


Film Value