In defence of…Gone in 60 Seconds

There were a lot of awful movies released in the 90s.



Super Mario Bros, Showgirls and Val Kilmer’s awful remake of The Island of Dr. Moreau come to mind, but it’s important to remember that the shit didn’t stop hitting the fan at the turn of the millennium.


Although the year 2000 brought us such cult classics as Requiem for a Dream, Almost Famous and Sexy Beast – the brave new world that we were living in also brought us some absolute stinkers. I’m talking Disney’s Dinosaur (a saccharine animated feature which they bizarrely repeated with 2015’s The Good Dinosaur), Battlefield Earth and, brace yourselves, Coyote Ugly.


Despite some truly great work being done during this time, it’s a sad truth that young, original directors were not being supported by an industry that was mostly propped up by financiers in their 40s who mistakenly thought that a heady mix of nudity, fast cars, dumb as heck plotting, or a blend of all three, was the only way to make money in the movie industry. As a result, movie goers were treated to a veritable schlock fest of trash that has quite rightly been consigned to the past. Films like Road Trip, Scary Movie and What Women Want might well have entertained the masses, but time has proven them to be crass, shallow and toxic in their treatment of sexuality, race and relationships.


It would be a mistake to lump Gone in 60 Seconds in with these howlers from 2000. A loose remake of the 1974 film of the same name, this film was unappreciated, even by the schlock trained audiences of the time, and was said to have lost it’s backers up to $90 million. A re-watch of this sturdy actioner will reveal a movie that has clearly been made with more passion and patience than most other productions of the time.


Admittedly, the premise for the film is a little ridiculous.


Nicolas Cage, still riding a high from the action triptych of The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off, plays retired car thief Memphis (the first of several laughable name choices) and Giovanni Ribisi (brilliantly wired and nervy) is his younger brother who’s in deep with extremely British mobster, Raymond Calitri played by hammy, but fun, Christopher Eccleston. Ribisi’s Kip (that’s right, two brothers called Kip and Memphis) botches the job to Calitri’s distaste. Preferring his cars whole, as opposed to a barely drive-able collection of Porsche parts, he threatens to kill Kip unless Memphis comes out of retirement for ‘one last job’ and nab the cars in the space of 72 hours. Cue a visit to the matriarch of the family, followed by a rapid assembling of his old crew in order to tackle the gargantuan task.


In less than two hours we’re taken on a whirlwind tour of California, meeting colourful characters such as Mirror Man, Sway (a feline Angelina Jolie) and…Sphinx (a mostly silent but effective Vinnie Jones). Even the cops chasing the crooks are lumped with questionable names: Detectives Castleback and Drycoff (a name that literally no one in real life has) are hot on the trail of Memphis and his crew, making for an exciting thrill ride that is light on narrative and heavy on quips and action.


Gone in 60 Seconds is not going to go down in history as ‘one of the greats’, however, t’s clear that the producers have real love for the vehicles and the rough-diamond crew of thieves, regardless of how ridiculous their names are.


It might not test your brain, but it will certainly put a smile on your face more than Coyote Ugly.