Rating: ** (***)
Release Date: 6/9/00
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer
Director: Dominic Sena
Music: Trevor Rabin
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Robert Duvall
Interesting. I decided to give this film three stars instead of two merely for nostalgia value. If you're not a fan of H.B. Halicki's original "Gone In 60 Seconds" (1974) and 70's action movies in general, you'll get NOTHING out of this film. Randall "Memphis" Rains (Nicolas Cage) is a legendary car thief who has gone into retirement. His younger brother, however, has decided to pick up where Memphis left off and gets himself into a LOT of trouble. Memphis is forced to get back into the trade in order to save his brother's life, and has to steal fifty specialty cars in the next four days. He reassembles his old team and for the sake of bridging the generation gap in the audience, recruits some annoying young blood as well. From here, things proceed as expected. They start stealing cars, problems arise, personnel conflicts erupt, and the police start to put the heat on. It all comes down to Memphis stealing his legendary Eleanor (this time a 67 Shelby GT 500) and being relentlessly pursued through town by the cops, and eventually evading them in a spectacular fashion. Then the film radically diverges from the original by having Memphis, the villainous buyer, and the cops, holed up in a warehouse shooting at each other. Surprise, surprise, the "good guys" win, and even Eleanor from the original film makes a welcome and heartfelt cameo.
This is far from a good film, but the most interesting aspect about it is comparing and contrasting it to the original. Much to my surprise, the form stays true to the original, and nostalgia drives the plot forward better than anything else. Unfortunately, it has also been updated for the 90's by including sappy teen angst, stupid humor, and overbearing morality issues. This is not a morality play, it's a movie about car thieves! These are not good people - why do filmmakers feel like they have to morally validate their characters? That's part of what made the original film so endearing - Maindrian Pace (H.B. Halicki) is a criminal and kind of a jerk. He steals cars for a living, but also lives by his own strict code of honor. He's a bad guy, but we end up cheering him on anyway. He's doing it for money - not to save his brother, not to keep a promise to his mother, not to save the life of the policeman that's always on his butt. He's a mercenary, not a saint.
Another problem with this remake is obviously the climactic car chase. It has no hopes of living up to the original, and it doesn't even try. Instead of having some fast and furious car stunts, the film also reflects on the times by relying on ridiculous and over-the-top effects work. There are no real car crashes in the film, but cars are blown up and spectacularly smashed by machinery. Eleanor's final jump to freedom is nothing more than a computer animated composite, devoid of any danger, passion, or soul. Though bigger, louder, faster, and flashier than the original, what it lacks most is heart. Halicki's "Gone In 60 Seconds" was a pure and honest film, made by a man who loved cars and loved car stunts, and that shows. This new film seems to lose sight of that fact in favor of trying to tell an uninteresting story that happens to have a couple car chases in it.