Action movies are basically children’s movies for adults. That is to say that they are expressly designed to hit very specific pleasure centers to generate a predictable and uniform reaction. Bad action movies, like bad children’s movies, are rarely open to interpretation. Children’s movies, of course, are exempt from this Spiritual Journey because what’s the point? They are made for an audience with unique needs that are not the needs of adults. Forget it, Jake, it’s Babytown, etc. Action movies are not entirely exempt from the Hunt, as the CrankHeads know all too well, but they might as well be exempt. They are simply too intentionally dumb and their ambitions too low to ever seriously surprise anyone with their terribleness. “What do you mean Speed 2 wasn’t very good? How is that even possible?” is not a thing anyone has ever said. Let dogs sleeping at 55 miles per hour lie, or whatever.
Gone in 60 Seconds is no exception. But it is terrible. So:
Gone in 60 Seconds begins with Giovanni Ribisi stealing a Porsche from a Porsche dealiership and driving it right through the dealership’s glass doors. Whoops! Wouldn’t that mess up the front of the really expensive car you just stole pretty badly? Nevermind, no time! This movie runs on PURE ADRENALINE. Actually, wait, no it doesn’t. The opening credit sequence is interminable, and sets the pace for the rest of the movie. For a movie about sports cars and the need for speed, this might as well be an audiobook, or a delicious meal. DON’T RUSH IT! Anyway, Giovanni Ribisi decides to drag race someone in his stolen car, which gets the police’s attention, and they follow him all the way to a warehouse filled with stolen cars. Everyone starts running away. The special task force of CAR THIEF DETECTIVES show up and impound all the cars. Now Giovanni Ribisi is in trouble with the Third Level Final Boss who hired him, and the only way to rescue him is for Nicolas Cage, the most FAMOUS CAR THIEF IN THE WORLD to come back to Los Angeles and steal 50 cars in four days. 50 cars is so many cars! Nicolas Cage agrees to do it, but only for his brother, and then he asks his mentor (because car thieves have mentors) Robert Duvall to help him put together a crew. But he better watch his back, because the CAR THIEF DETECTIVES are all over him. Anyway, the rest of the movie is kind of like Ocean’s 11, if Ocean’s 11 was retarded, and about cars instead of casinos, and moved along at the speed of a podcast. Will he be able to steal all 50 cars in one night with his wisecracking crew of car thief misfits? Or will the grudge-holding CAR THIEF DETECTIVES put him in Car Jail?
So, Nicolas Cage and pals get 49 of the 50 cars, and there is just one car left to steal, which is Nicolas Cage’s “unicorn”? They actually call it that in the movie? And people talk about how Nicolas Cage is scared of stealing this particular model of car because he and this model of car have “a history”? Just steal the fucking car, you baby. So Nicolas Cage steals the car, and there is a boring, tedious car chase (like watching a car chase dry), Nicolas Cage breaks the rearview mirror (oh no! They just used up the extent of my emotional investment in this movie! I hope the car doesn’t die!) and jumps over an ambulance on the Great Bridge of Los Angeles, and gets the car to the bad guy, but he is 5 minutes late, so the bad guy decides to destroy the car, not pay him any money, and also kill him. Well, A DEAL IS A DEAL. But blah blah blah, Giovanni Ribisi uses a wrecking ball to save the day, and then Nicolas Cage has a fistfight shootout in the bad guy’s warehouse. The CAR THIEF DETECTIVES show up, and then the bad guy is going to kill the cop, but Nicolas Cage tackles the bad guy, who falls through a window into a coffin that he built (don’t worry about it, but basically his hobby is building furniture and also building coffins) and the cop can’t believe that Nicolas Cage, the most famous car thief in the whole world, who he wishes he had put in jail when he had the chance, saved his life, and so he lets him go…There’s also a barbecue, but basically the end.
Now, the main reason I even put this movie into consideration in the first place is because someone told me Angelina Jolie had blond dreadlocks in it. Uh, SOLD. And it’s true, so let’s get that out of the way:
It’s weird that she was only 22 or something when this movie came out, but her face looks like a handbag made out of a dead person. Who died of old age. A million years ago. I’m pretty sure that when Donald Johanson was excavating the Hadar site in Ethiopia, he dug up the oldest known fossil of Angelina Jolie’s face, and then they put it in this movie.
Speaking of Angelina Jolie, she is part of one of my favorite plot points, which is when Nicolas Cage and Robert Duvall are putting together the team of car thieves, most of their old crew are dead or in jail or otherwise out of commission. There are only two people left on their potential list of recruits: Angelina Jolie and Vinnie Jones. “Oh no,” Robert Duvall says, “not those two.” Nicolas Cage is like “I know, but they’re the only two left on our list.” Except that it turns out they’re really productive and helpful members of the team? Like, they’re brave and good at stealing cars and loyal and they help Nicolas Cage get out of a number of jams. So I don’t know what they were so scared of.
That’s the way most of this movie is. They cobbled together cliches, which would be bad enough if the cliches made sense, but here they just don’t. I mean, I know that you need to have a clue dropped in the first act fall into the hands of the police at the end of the second act to help put them back on the trail for the third act, but does that clue really have to be a broken piece of glass from a black lightbulb? Because when the one cop says “the results came back from the lab, that piece of glass is from a black light bulb,” it is hilarious, and very, very stupid. (Although maybe not as stupid as the following scene in which the two cops have a very “natural” conversation in which they EXPLAIN WHAT BLACKLIGHTS ARE. Hi, this movie was made in 2000. I think we all know what blacklights are, Dr. Emmett Brown.)
And of course the Bad Guy has to have an accent (Irish?) and an obscure hobby (furniture making), how else are you going to get the adrenaline going?
Perhaps the most egregious problem with this movie, which is an egregious problem with a lot of shitty action movies, is the false moral world they construct that I am supposed to buy into. Like, it’s one thing for me to accept that Nicolas Cage is the MOST FAMOUS CAR THIEF IN THE WHOLE WORLD, and that there is an entire division of the LAPD devoted exclusively to pursuing car thieves in general, and famous high-end sports car thieves in particular. But, like, at one point, the Car Detectives’ case clashes with the Homicide Department, who explain that they are putting together a strong case against the Main Bad Guy on charges of murder in the first degree. “We’re talking about murder,” the homicide detective says, “who gives a shit about Grand Theft Auto?” GOOD POINT, SIR. Then at the climax of the movie, the one Car Detective decides to go after the bad guy anyway, and the other Car Detective is like, “but Homicide told us to lay off,” and the first Car Detective says, “the hell with homicide.” REALLY? You think that capturing a car thief for jumping over an ambulance is more important than allowing the police to arrest a known murderer for committing a ton of murders.
I hope this CRAZY MOBILE can seat everyone!
Besides, Nicolas Cage didn’t even jump the car over the amublance anyway! He simply cut a photo of the car out of a magazine and he pasted it in the sky above the ambulance. See?
In this movie’s defense, it did have a lot of great Nicolas Cage face acting.
Driving! He probably spent three months stealing cars with world famous car thieves and then engaging in high-speed car chases through crowded urban areas to see what kind of faces they really made. Got 2 get it just right.
Although, if there were Oscars for Car Driving Face Acting, I think 2000 would have been a pretty tough year for the judges. Because on the one hand, you’ve got Nicolas Cage, who basically deserves the award less for this particular movie and more for a Lifetime Achievement in Car Driving Face Acting, and then you’ve got this up-and-comer giving a breakout performance as Cop #2:
He’s gonna need a bigger mantle!
Next week: Funny Games. As always, please leave your suggestions in the comments or in an email. And if you haven’t done so already, please consult the Official Rules.