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'Gone in 60 Seconds' is no thrill ride

June 14, 2000|By ADRIAN FANG

Touchstone Pictures' "Gone in 60 Seconds" puts Nicolas Cage in the driver's seat, steering Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie, Delroy Lindo and Giovanni Ribisi through a ride of grand theft auto, slick car chases and bizarre action. Directed by Dominic Sena ("Kalifornia") and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer with a multimillion-dollar budget, the film mirrors today's Hollywood action films, offering a superficial and predictable plot, undeveloped characters and surreal action.

cont. from lifestyle

Cage is Randall Memphis Raines, a legendary car thief in Los Angeles. After a police confrontation, Memphis finally decides to obey his mother's order by retiring from the one thing he does best. For six years, he lives an honest life away from crime and corruption in the desert by running a gas station and go-kart track.

Memphis' straight life soon begins to crumble beneath his feet.

From an old friend and ex-crew member, he discovers that his younger brother, Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi), decided to follow in his footsteps and became a car thief. Kip has carelessly messed up a typical car boost and angered his crazy gangster boss, Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston).

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Calitri holds Kip hostage. In order to save his brother, Memphis agrees to reimburse Calitri for Kip's mistake by stealing 50 cars in four days.

Memphis finds himself on the verge of assembling an experienced crew, which consists of Sway (Angelina Jolie), Otto (Robert Duvall), Donny (Chi McBride) and Sphinx (Vinnie Jones). They dodge cars and pester police officer Detective Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo).

Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg fails to provide additional texture or storyline. I wanted to see Cage's character before he decided to reform. Instead, we are only presented with the four days that he has to steal those 50 cars.

The film is neither suspenseful nor unpredictable - but not as predictable as "Mission Impossible 2." I knew who was going to be spared or killed before the scenes occurred.

"Gone in 60 Seconds" provides a diverse blend of action, comedy and fidelity. Although it is not compelling and believable, it is entertaining. We get a taste of Hollywood's overproduced and ephemeral thrills for 119 minutes, and then leave the theater forgetting about the real significance of the picture. But is that what we really want?

Along with the shallow and foreseen plot, "Gone in 60 Seconds" lacks character development. I was expecting Cage to walk out on screen a bit more energetic and colorful. Instead, like in his previous films, Cage was his normal self - an undertone, stoic and depressed character.

On the other hand, Duvall plays Otto pretty well. Jolie's Sway is undeveloped, showing up only in the beginning and the end of the film. And the film's choice of characters mocks the professionalism of grand theft auto. For instance, Memphis' crew consists mainly of reckless high school dropouts and teenagers. If you're going to steal 50 cars, you should have a crew of experience and intellect.

Aside from the characters and plot, the only good aspects of "Gone in 60 Seconds" are the fast cars and the final chase sequence. Director Sena fills the screen and streets with a plethora of power cars, making any man fall to his feet.

Throughout the film, we get glimpses of Lamborghinis, Porsche 911 Turbos, Mercedes-Benzes, Ferraris and others.

In the final chase scene, Memphis guns a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500 named "Eleanor" through the streets of Los Angeles. At a speed of 160 mph, he effortlessly dodges police cars, pedestrians and various vehicles. To avoid the police, the classic Mustang ramps off of a construction platform and soars over an extensive line of EMT workers and cars.

If you enjoy cheap thrills, special effects and fast cars, then "Gone in 60 Seconds" is for you. If you are a movie buff who likes a structured plot, developed characters and a good twist, don't bother buckling your seat belts, because "Gone in 60 Seconds" is not going to be a thrill ride.




A resident of Chambersburg, Pa., Adrian Fang is a 1999 graduate of Mercersburg Academy. He is studying filmmaking at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

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