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GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS

by: Scott Renshaw

In an ever-changing world, there's something understandably comforting about the impressive sameness of Jerry Bruckheimer productions. Going back to his partnership with the late Don Simpson, Bruckheimer has built up an impressive 15-year resume of box office successes: Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Bad Boys, The Rock, Con Air, Enemy of the State, Armageddon. There's a formula to his films that has rarely let him down, a formula that continues with nary a whiff of change in Gone in Sixty Seconds. Since this is a Bruckheimer film, you know you can count on …

A premise ready-made for action. Nicolas Cage stars as Randall "Memphis" Raines, once the best "booster" in Southern California, now retired. He's dragged back into his old trade when his younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) screws up while attempting to follow in his footsteps, leaving nasty crime boss Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston) with an attitude and a job still to be done. In order to save Kip's skin, Memphis agrees to fulfill Kip's contract: stealing 50 high-end cars. Unfortunately, the delivery date is only three days away, leaving Memphis with little time to put together his crew and scout out the job, all the while trying to avoid an old law enforcement nemesis (Delroy Lindo) who's breathing down his neck.

A style that transcends individual directors. It doesn't matter whether Bruckheimer's flavor of the month is Tony Scott, Michael Bay, Simon West or Sixty Seconds' helmer Dominic Sena -- his films all seem to look and sound exactly the same. Perhaps it's the fact that Bruckheimer is attracted to directors whose background is in commercials and music videos, making them likely to concur with his vision of glossy packaging. Maybe he gets his people such great deals on orange lens filters that it's impossible for those directors not to employ them for every single shot. Whatever the reason, the quick-cuts, bombastic musical scoring and burnished glow give Bruckheimer films that certain grandiose flash that makes for action gold, even if nothing else makes much sense because of …

Over-stuffed scripts. In his recent efforts, Bruckheimer has shown a distinct inability to strip down an action story to its essentials. Gone in Sixty Seconds is no exception, dragging the pacing down by cramming too many characters into the narrative. That can result in absurd decisions like creating a solid, vicious villain in Eccleston, then having his character disappear for literally 80 minutes of the running time, or similarly wasting the forceful presence of Vinnie Jones (as Memphis' mute, muscular associate). It also results in conflicts constructed with a faux-operatic sense of consequence. The family tension between Memphis and Kip, the non-sparks between Memphis and his old flame/running partner Sway (Angelina Jolie), even the history between Memphis and Lindo's determined detective bog the film down with a ridiculous sense that the story should be taken seriously, when it should be a quick and dirty piece of crowd-pleasing nonsense. Those decisions are complicated, for better and worse, by …

Provocative casting. Bruckheimer has shown himself to be a savvy packager of talent in recent years, generally teaming up popular stars with established "serious" actors for a sense of credibility: Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall in Days of Thunder, Will Smith and Gene Hackman in Enemy of the State, Cage with Sean Connery in The Rock. Cage and Duvall are both back for Gone in Sixty Seconds, as is the characteristically diverse Bruckheimer supporting cast. Somehow, it does make many of Bruckheimer's films feel less awful than they should that there are fairly talented actors involved. It also seems even more pathetic when they are stuck with Scott Rosenberg dialogue like "He's bad … he's real bad." Or, "How deep is he in?" "Deep." Or, "I'm no

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