Eric D. Snider

Gone in 60 Seconds

If you're a teen-age boy, you'll love "Gone in 60 Seconds," because I think it must have been your peers who made the movie.

It's full of car crashes, high school-level dialogue (someone actually says, "We've got company!" while being chased), a plot that develops with sitcom simplicity, dog-poop jokes, crazy nicknames (Sway, Sphinx, Tumbler, etc.), and an awesome musical soundtrack. (It's almost as if they created the movie just so they'd have an excuse to put all these cool songs somewhere.)

Oh, and Angelina Jolie is in it, too, uttering lame dialogue and trying to fool us into thinking she's attracted to Nicolas Cage, in one of several scenes of unnecessary and unconvincing backstory.

Cage plays Memphis Raines, a semi-retired professional car thief in L.A. Seems he realized, at some point, that being a crook can actually ruin your life (go figure), so he's gone straight. He is called into action, though, when his younger brother, Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), following in Memphis's footsteps, screws up a job and has to steal 50 cars for a generically British bad guy (Christopher Eccleston) as penance. It's either that, or Kip gets killed.

Memphis can "boost" 50 cars in one night, but even he needs help. So he calls in his old team of regulars. There's a guy named Sphinx (Vinnie Jones) who doesn't talk; a wise-cracking black guy put in for comic relief; an old mentor (Robert Duvall); a computer whiz; a Scott Caan (his character's just a big dough-head, and I can't think of a better way to describe him than "Scott Caan"); and the aforementioned Jolie, who plays a woman Memphis was supposedly at one time romantic with.

(Some of these characters may actually have been Kip's friends, brought in as part of his team. After a while -- and this movie does go on for a while -- you forget who belonged to whom. By mid-film, they're all working together on the same project, so it probably doesn't matter.)

Meanwhile, Delroy Lindo (who is an inch away from being Tony Todd) plays a cop who figures out something big's about to go down. His character, as well as those played by other actors, are woefully underdeveloped. Stock characters are fine for an action film, of course; the problem here is that there are too many scenes suggesting we're SUPPOSED to care about them. Memphis's brotherly love for Kip might be sweet, for example, if it weren't conveyed in generic movie language and cast aside almost as soon as it's introduced.

One scene has one of Kip's young, unhardened friends getting wounded. Thanks to Ribisi's soulful eyes and subtle acting, you sense true friendship and concern coming from him. But that one moment dies in an otherwise loud, emotionless film.

"Gone in 60 Seconds" is cool and stylish, and nothing more. It boasts a spectacularly exciting car chase near the end -- but even that eventually regresses into a "Dukes of Hazzard" scenario. It's strictly for the teens, who will eat up the unimaginative plot, bad jokes and pictures of Angelina Jolie looking hot.

Grade: C

Rated PG-13, scattered profanity, some sexuality, plenty of crashes, shootings, etc.

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