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Gone in 60 Seconds - Director's Cut
For a movie that seems to promise a whole lot of high-end automotive mayhem, Dominic Sena's Gone in Sixty Seconds sure does spend most of its running time in neutral. It's as if the filmmakers (Swordfish's Sena, Con Air scribe Scott Rosenberg, and uber-testosterone-y producer Jerry Bruckheimer) were entirely unsure of how to balance the "plot & character" luggage on top of a vehicle built for speed. Which means that the first 70-some minutes of the movie are spent watching some great character actors putter around with a certain degree of aimlessness, content to just while away the time before we can get into the motorhead money shots. And while the big, swollen chase finale is something pretty darn slick and exciting, the sequence also stands out as the only true highlight of the movie.
But I'm probably getting ahead of myself.
Based on the 1974 cult flick of the same name, Gone in Sixty Seconds is the mindless sort of movie that's not only well aware of its own mindlessness -- it pretty much thrives upon it. The plot is a standard model: Former car-stealer extraordinaire Memphis Raines (Nicolas Cage) is forced to climb back into the thievery saddle when his clueless young brother runs afoul of a particularly unpleasant British villain. In an effort to steal 50 fancy automobiles in less than one day, Memphis seeks out assistance from his old gang of lovable hooligans. Toss in a few cops, a rival street gang, and three dozen fancy cars -- and there's your movie.
So I seem to be leaning towards the "hated it" side of the equation, but (surprisingly) that's not entirely the case. Looking back to the review I wrote in 2000, I cringe just a little at the harshness of my tone. And now that I've been compelled to give Gone in Sixty Seconds a second chance (thanks to this "Unrated Director's Cut" DVD) ... I like the movie just a little bit more. The second time around I took closer notice of the music (both the Trevor Rabin score and the toe-tappin' soundtrack tunes) and the exceedingly colorful supporting cast.
But the main thing I complained about five years ago is pretty much the same problem I still have with Gone in Sixty Seconds: it's all set-up. Sure, it's slickly directed and easy-to-swallow set-up, but it's cinematic foreplay all the same. And 65 minutes of foreplay starts to strain certain muscles to the point of distraction.
If you're a car junkie, I'd certainly recommend Gone in Sixty Seconds over flashy junk like The Fast and the Furious and its even more unwatchable sequel, but where's it written in stone that all car-centric movies must be this aggressively simple-minded? People who build and restore cars must be pretty smart to remember all those inner workings, so why are the movies geared towards this group so irretrievably mindless?
Gone in Sixty Seconds is at its best when the wheels are spinning, but (believe it or not) there aren't even that many car chases in this movie! A few mini-chases are tossed out to the supporting characters, and Cage has one doozy of a pursuit to end the flick on a high note -- but an action movie needs to offer more than one long chase scene to earn my stamp of enthusiasm.
Still, this second time around the block with Gone in Sixty Seconds allowed me to better appreciate the contributions of the supporting cast. Robert Duvall, in particular, delivers the kind of fun performance that proves to be infectious, while folks like Angelina Jolie, Will Patton, Chi McBride, Christopher Eccleston, Delroy Lindo, and Timothy Olyphant make the most of their fleeting appearances. The affable chemistry and loosey-goosey interplay between several of the "peanut gallery" characters rank among the movie's strongest assets.
As far as the "newly added" material? Frankly I'm not so sure. I spotted a handful of new chat-heavy scenes between Cage and Giovanni Ribisi, and one between Cage and Duvall. There's certainly nothing here that expands the film's scope or intensifies the excitement, so unless you're already a big fan of Gone in Sixty Seconds, I can't say it's worthy of a "blind-buy double-dip." Those fans should give it a rental to see if the extra character moments add up to anything special; if they work for you, then I say give the Director's Cut a purchase. Otherwise just stick with the old DVD -- because aside from the nine extra minutes of pre-chase chatter, there's literally nothing on this new DVD that's not on the first one.
Video: Widescreen (2.35:1) Anamorphic treatment here, and the movie looks pretty damn perfect. Mr. Sena might not yet be a master storyteller, but he sure does know how to frame a slick shot.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Stereo, and even though I don't really dig the movie all that much, there's little denying that this DVD is an absolute feast for your aural cavities. Between the engines, the tires, and the omnipresent "adrenalin music," you'll feel like you're watching the flick from under your dashboard.
Apparently assuming that the "extra 9 minutes" wedged back into the Director's Cut was more than enough icing for this particular cake, the Disney DVD dudes opt to simply recycle all of the supplements from the previous DVD. All of the same features are ported over, which means that the Director's Cut is the only real selling point of the DVD -- and that ain't much!
Conversations with Jerry Bruckheimer runs just over seven minutes, and here's where you'll find the uber-successful movie-maker at his friendliest and most humble. But, um, did I just slip on a tab of LSD -- or did Mr. Bruckheimer just compare Michael Bay to David Lean? Oh, my sides!
Action Overload is a resoundingly pointless 90-second clip of the movie's best action sequences. Actually, this little clip might just be a little bit better than the movie itself. All the chase, none of the yip-yap!
The Big Chase is a three-part glimpse of the movie's best moments of wheel-screechin' mayhem. It's pretty telling that L.A. Streets (5:05), Naval Yard (3:37), and The Big Jump (3:09) are all scenes that occur during the big chase finale.
0 to 60 is a 4-minute visit with Sena, Rosenberg and Bruckheimer as they explain how Gone in Sixty Seconds was brought to life. Odd that nobody seems to remember that their flick is based on a previously existing one!
Wild Rides is a 5-minute car-centric lust-fest that should please the motorheads -- however briefly.
Stars on the Move is a collection of chatty bits in which we learn how and why each cast member was hired. Actually not a bad little series of featurettes, although it might have worked better as one long piece as opposed to twelve little ones.
Rounding out the DVD are the Gone in Sixty Seconds theatrical trailer and a music video for The Cult's Painted On My Heart ... which is actually a song I like a whole lot.
Heck, I'm no snob when it comes to the Bruckheimer fare. I've always had a soft spot for the kinetic lunacy of Armageddon and Con Air -- and you'll always find me very enthusiastic about The Rock and Pirates of the Caribbean. But Gone in Sixty Seconds just doesn't do it for me. The eclectic supporting cast and a few seriously slick directorial touches save the flick from being outright awful, but on the whole it just seems like a whole lot of set-up for very little payoff.