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Deadline Auto Theft / Gone In 60 Seconds 2

Other // PG // September 2, 2003
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by J. Doyle Wallis | posted September 9, 2003 | E-mail the Author
In the 70's and early 80's, there was no COPS, Worlds Scariest Police Chases, or major city news eye in the sky chopper reports to turn to if you wanted to see cars driving at unsafe speeds being pursued by dogged highway patrol officers. Thus, the car chase became a component in action movies as prevalent as the shoot-out. Sometimes it was even the whole entire point of the movie or tv show. Burt Reynolds became the number one box office draw, and everyone tuned in to see what dry creek bed in Hazard County the General Lee would jump this week.

One man who was ready to bring a muscle car fueled, pedal to the metal, chase spectacle on the screen was H.B. "Toby" Halicki, a mechanic, real estate investor, rabid car enthusiast, and stunt driver, who put all of his cash into making his own car crash films. From his first one, the original Gone in 60 Seconds, he managed to have a cult hit. He delivered the goods, a film short on plot and character and high on cool cars and chase scenes, including the infamous forty minute finale. And, yes, in todays age of slicker stunt production values and shiny remakes, Halicki's films look very dated and even pretty amateurish. But, you also cannot deny that they are filled with that exploitation spirit and fun you see all too rarely onscreen these days.

Now, Halicki's credits usually list his having made four films, but that is stretching it. He made Gone in 60 Seconds, then he made The Junkman and somewhere down the line, footage from those films was edited into a third film, Deadline Auto Theft. Halicki was making a sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds and had completed a little over thirty minutes of action shots when he died while filming a stunt. So, two are legit, Gone in 60 Seconds 2 went forever unfinished, and Deadline Auto Theft is just a hack job of his first two films, like editing together Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back into one two hour film. Suffice to say, Deadline Auto Theft is an incoherent mess that is pretty worthless if you've seen Gone and Junkman. Considering those two are just better, more coherent films, they pretty much negate the need to watch Deadline.

This disc also features thirty-three minutes of footage from Gone in 60 Seconds 2. The film was to revolve around a stunt car Halicki designed called "The Slicer." Basically, "The Slicer" looks like a triangular road hazard that is painted with black and yellow stripes. If a car tries to ram it, obviously, its triangle shape makes crashing impossible and the car just flips over or jumps "The Slicer." Since there is little narrative in the footage, it may seem a bit unfair to judge the unfinished work. But, if the film was to revolve around this silly looking car, instead of, say, the original Gone's macho 1973 Mach 1 Mustang "Eleanor", you just cannot imagine anyone other than a child enjoying the movie.

The DVD:

Picture: Deadline Auto Theft is presented in anamorphic widescreen and boasts to be a remastered print. Well, I'm not really too sure how much remastering went on. It still looks fairly rough and has the low budget 70's/80's look of heavy grain and muted colors. I'm sure that any amount of restoration still cannot overcome the hurdles of the films cinematography and age. The real disappointing factor behind this "remastered" print is a bad transfer job, complete with some minor pixellation, edge enhancement, and compressed image. Those not averse to buying budget titles won't mind, but the technically prude will be sore with the quality.

Gone in 60 Seconds 2 is presented full frame and is in pretty rough shape, but not as rough as you'd think considering the footage was left laying around for the better part of fifteen years. It suffers from the same budget transfer defects like pixellation and compression artifacts, though not as much as Deadline.

Sound: 5.1 or 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround tracks, or a DTS track. Once again, these suped-up remastered audio tracks continue to baffle me. They are a bit like sprinkles on an ice cream cone, fine and all, but really do not add much to the enjoyment of your dessert. No amount of separation and tweeking the stereo fx can disguise the already thin low budget soundtrack. Still, they do add some decent crunch of metal and a high end to the rough squealing tires. But, you just cannot escape the fact that real audiophiles wont be extremely impressed with the low budget fare pumping though their DTS sound system.

Extras: Chapter Selections--- Intros by Halicki's widow Denise Halicki--- "Crash Counter" subtitle feature that racks up the bumps and tumbles of the cars onscreen.--- Trailers for Gone in 60 Seconds, The Junkman, and Deadline Auto Theft.--- Shoestring Showman: The Life and High Times of H.B. "Toby" Halicki featurette (44:54). Informative, but everyone is a bit stiff and it feels more like an infomercial doc rather than a good bio doc. Ken Burns it is not. I'm pretty sure I saw this before on a car channel (Speed TV?) that used to have a drive-in theater night.

Conclusion: Well, I guess those who are hardcore Halicki fans/completists may find this DVD to be an okay purchase. But, Deadline Auto is just a bad edit job of his first two movies and the footage of Gone in 60 Seconds 2, as well as the Halicki bio doc, are not quite good enough for me to justify this as a purchase for casual buyers. Combine that with the shoddy transfer and I'll have to give it an overall "skip it." If you want a good representation of his work just go for the original Gone and Junkman.

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