24 December 2008 | garydiamond
Not trying to be an epic: just a fun, simple B-movie.
As much as I like big epic pictures - I'll spare you the namedropping - it's great to kick back with a few beers and a simple action flick sometimes. Films where the plot takes a backseat to the set-pieces. Films where the dialogue isn't so cleverly written that it ties itself in endless knots of purple prose. There are HUNDREDS of films that fit the bill... but in my opinion Gone In Sixty Seconds is one of the better ones.
It's an update of the movie that shares its name. It also shares that picture's ethos, but not quite it's execution. Whatever was great about the original has been streamlined. Whatever was streamlined was also amped up thanks to a bigger budget. Often these kinds of endeavours are recipes for complete disaster - see the pug-ugly remake of The Italian Job for one that blew it - but here, thanks to a cast of mostly excellent actors, Sixty succeeds.
The plot and much of the dialogue isn't much to write IMDb about. Often you'll have scenes where the same line of dialogue goes back and forth between the actors, each of whom will voice it with different inflections. A lot of people found this annoying; I find it raises a smile. Each actor gets a chance to show off his or her definition of style here, with Cage, Jolie and Duvall leading the pack of course (and it should be noted that it's also amusing to see Mrs Pitt not given first billing here). The chemistry between good ol' Saint Nick the stalwart (see date of review) and Angelina leads to a couple of nice moments.
The villain is not even a little scary - I've seen Chris Eccleston play tough-guy roles before so I know he can handle them, but I think he was deliberately directed to make his role inconsequential as not to distract from the action. We know the heroes are going to succeed, somehow; we're just sitting in the car with them, enjoying the ride. I think a lot of these scenes were played with tongue so far in-cheek that it went over the heads of a lot of people giving this a poor rating. In fact, I wouldn't have minded some fourth-wall breaking winks at the camera: it's just that kind of movie.
All this style and not so much substance - something that often exhausts my patience if not executed *just* so - would be worthless if the action wasn't there. And for the most part, it is. Wonderfully so. I've noticed that it seems to be a common trend to be using fast-cut extreme close-up shots to direct action these days. I personally find this kind of thing exhausting. I prefer movies like this where the stunts are impressive enough to not need artificial tension ramping by raping tight shots all the time. I've been told that Cage actually did as many of the car stunts as he could get away with without losing his insurance (in real life I mean - his character clearly doesn't care) and it shows. The man can really move a vehicle and this is put to good use in the slow-burning climatic finale where he drives a Mustang into the ground in the most outlandish - and FUN - way possible.
So yes, this movie isn't an "epic, life-affirming post-9/11 picture with obligatory social commentary" effort. The pacing is uneven, some of the scenes could have been cut and not all the actors tow the line. But car movies rarely come better than this. So if you hate cars... why are you even reading these comments?!
I'd take it over the numerous iterations of "The Flaccid And The Tedious" (guess the franchise) any day. 7/10