There are times when you'll wish "Gone in 60 Seconds" lived up to its title.
Everyone connected with this self-consciously explosive action flick obviously hopes that within all moviegoers dwells an Eternal Adolescent. They could be right. The preview audience cheered the movie, while critics kept looking at their watches.
By now, we all realize that explosions and crashes are visually strong and frequently compelling. But director Dominic Sena too often seems to be waving at the audience and yelling, "Wasn't that a great visual!" The original 1974 "Gone in 60 Seconds" boasted a naive sincerity that was a hallmark of that era's low-budget action flicks. This big-budget remake is so self-aware that any want-to-please appeal is lost in the dust.
Never before has a promising cast been wasted so shamelessly. The movie's Oscar-winning trio borders on self-parody. We've seen Nicolas Cage's Pensive Action Hero too many times already; "Con Air" and "The Rock" were more than enough. Angelina Jolie, in a surprisingly brief role, continues to show dangerous evidence of excessive self-adoration.
As for Robert Duvall, he's too good an actor to be mired in "lovable codger" roles. At least he occasionally tries to give the impression that some of his dialogue is meaningful. The movie also squanders such outstanding character actors as Delroy Lindo, Giovanni Ribisi, Frances Fisher, Grace Zabriskie and Will Patton.
The movie's real stars carry such names as (in alphabetical order): Aston Martin, Bentley, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ferrari, Ford T-Bird, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Mercury, Plymouth, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Shelby, Toyota and Volvo. All are seen in various states of both splendor and disrepair. Even in their most wretched moments, the cars glisten more than the actors.
For those who insist on some sort of human equation, the creaky plot details the plight of one Randall "Memphis" Raines (Mr. Cage), a legendary car thief now gone straight. Alas, he's forced back into one marathon heist to save the life of his younger brother Kip (Mr. Ribisi), who's alienated some very nasty criminals. Our man Memphis winds up having to steal 50 cars in one night, first recruiting a team of uncertain efficiency. Despite an abundance of auto activity, the movie never really takes off until the heist begins, when it's buoyed by some occasionally enjoyable banter. A running gag about a hungry canine who swallows a valuable pair of keys will amuse dog owners.
Director Sena's career has focused on MTV music videos and television commercials. But his 1993 feature debut "Kalifornia" had strong performances from Brad Pitt, Juliette Lewis and David Duchovny. Still, it was an in-your-face serial killer movie, whereas "Gone in 60 Seconds" is an in-your-face car heist flick.
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer enjoys a reign as a summer-movie maven, with an oeuvre that includes "Top Gun," "The Rock," "Con Air" and "Armageddon." The press materials for "Gone in 60 Seconds" make several mentions of the fact that he considers the new movie to be "character-driven." To give the film its due, some of its dialogue contains speeches of more than two sentences.