Gone in Sixty Seconds is the type of heist movie for which I have trouble staying awake. It features about 70 minutes of setup, which is far more than it should have, and then it has almost an hour of car thievery and one lengthy chase scene. There are a couple of smaller chases scattered throughout, but most of the film is planning and then easy, successful thefts. And the chases aren’t even that thrilling thanks to bland direction. It’s easy to nod off during a movie like this one.
The plot: Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) has messed up a job, so now it’s up to his brother, Memphis (Nicolas Cage), to fix it. He has to steal 50 cars of varying makes, models, and rarity over the course of 72 hours. He has to get together his team, locate the cars, and then get them all stolen. If he doesn’t, his brother will die. That’s a pretty decent premise, one which you might have seen before in another film called Gone in 60 Seconds, of which this film is a remake. Don’t worry if you haven’t seen the original; it’s not essential viewing, especially not to understand this one.
On Memphis’ side are a whole host of characters. I’ll list the actors because it’ll be easier to understand them as opposed to the “characters,” considering they’re so underdeveloped that I couldn’t even name most of them for you without the help of the internet. The likes of Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie, Will Patton, Chi McBride, Vinnie Jones, James Duval, Scott Caan, and T.J. Cross all show up to help in the car thefts.
The villain is played by Christopher Eccleston. There are also two cops, played by Delroy Lindo and Timothy Olyphant, who spend most of their time trying to bring down Memphis. These are the players, and now we just have to watch them play. It’s unfortunate that almost everything that happens is so dreadfully dull that it’s impossible to get excited until the final chase scene, and even that goes on for way too long and is crafted with such lack of passion that I couldn’t help but start drifting and thinking about better things.
How fun is it to watch lifeless characters meander for 70 minutes and then easily steal cars for another 50? If you like cars, I suppose you’ll like seeing the ones featured here, but the internet exists and on it you can browse pictures and see more detail than this type of film will allow. “But we won’t see them driven in high-speed chases on the internet,” you say. True, but you don’t really get that here, either. Most of the time we just see the actor break into the car and drive it a few feet before moving on to the next one.
The final chase scene is what made the original film memorable. It lasted about 40 minutes. I didn’t bother to time the one at the end of this film — which has Memphis driving around in “Eleanor,” a 1967 Mustang — but it’s probably only about half of the time of the original’s. That’s still too long. It was dull. It takes a very skilled group of filmmakers to make a car chase truly exciting, and this crew didn’t manage to make anything more than a technically proficient bore.
Why watch a movie like this? It’s not thrilling, it’s not funny, and the cars mostly come into play as objects of theft. There is no character development, even with the 70 minutes of non-action, and there isn’t a point to any of it. You feel nothing, you react to nothing, and the filmmakers put nothing of themselves into it. It barely works as a distraction. Perhaps as background noise, it could do the job. But even background noise occasionally wants to be viewed, and Gone in Sixty Seconds doesn’t deserve your attention.
It’s aimless. It has no ambitions. It has a couple of clever moments but not enough to fill two hours. At 90 minutes in length, perhaps it would be tolerable. Its plot certainly doesn’t deserve to be anything more than that. The original involved the theft of 48 cars and ran for 105 minutes. Does the addition of two cars justify the extra 15 minutes? Or, since most of the thefts are so easy, should this new version not be even shorter due to the lack of effort its characters need to expend in order to steal the cars?
Most of the actors show up only at intermittent points. Nicolas Cage is the only constant, and he takes the absurd plot as seriously as anyone could. Giovanni Ribisi, Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie are all barely even in the movie. The supporting cast doesn’t need to exist. I’d buy Memphis being able to steal all 50 cars on his own. Maybe that would provide some more thrills, too. He, working through exhaustion and a tougher clock, might mess up now and then, leading to circumstances he needs to overcome. I digress.
Gone in Sixty Seconds is such a dull action film. The chases are few and far between, and when they do show up, they’re boring. They’re technically competent but fail to get the heart pumping any harder than that of a comatose patient. You can’t invest in any of the characters. The only one who’s on-screen enough is the lead, but his character is established before the movie and doesn’t change as it progresses. There’s no reason to watch Gone in Sixty Seconds.