All my friends know the low rider.
Nicolas Cage movies never feel like they’re doing anything exciting or novel as much as they are the kind of pipework and standard model that all other movies are riffing off. If you’ve never seen the type of movie in the genre before, any given Nic Cage movie is going to blow your mind, but by default, he’s not doing challenging work as much as he is doing fun work. The kinds of movies he chooses to do — well, I guess it seems like it’s more about who bothers to call him, the man will star in anything it seems — do not seem very avant garde or surprising. It means the man serves as a sort of grading label on any given movie, something that gets to be enjoyable to watch and maybe crests into very funny, but by default if they put Nicolas Cage on the poster, the movie you’re getting won’t be that complicated.
Before Fast And The Furious was an extremely muscular meme, that meme lived and breathed in Gone In 60 Seconds.
This movie is sort of high water mark for this sort of floor-and-ceiling of Nicolas Cage Quality principle: Gone In 60 Seconds is a dumb movie with poop jokes and weirdly PG-rated criminals, and it’s a pretty good time.
Your narrative: Nicolas Cage is Nicolas Cage, the best car thief who ever car thiefed, but he left that life behind. His kid brother, however, didn’t, and now he’s in trouble, so he needs his brother to save him, through Car Thiefing. He proceeds to do so, with some complication.
That’s it, that’s the tweet.
If you haven’t watched Gone In 60 Seconds, it is exactly the quality of movie I would not recommend watching when you have anything better to watch. If it’s on a TV screen in the same room as you, don’t turn it off, if you’re doing some work from home work and you want something on the other screen to take mental breaks with, definitely jam it there, and it’ll do that job admirably. It’s not a movie you want to think about too much, and it doesn’t want to maintain its own tension wound too high. You are promised Nicolas Cage, you are promised some element of car chases, and there is a smattering of movieness about it, and if you remember that formula, you’re not going to need to worry if you stop paying attention for five minutes. It’s a Hallmark crime movie.
This movie was, to me in 2002, an extremely cool idea of what cool could be. It wasn’t aggressive or difficult. Thieves could be cool, they could improvise, but they didn’t need to be, you know, intimidating, or evil. It was also an ensemble movie where I first really grasped the purpose of the ensemble in a narrative way. Not that it used this for much great effect — but the best bit of this movie is the fun sequence of ‘the team break up and do their cool crimes separately, in different ways.’ It’s a movie without much to it, but with a lot of characters to love.
Hmn, okay okay, so about the characters.
Sway, okay, Sway. In this movie, Angelina Jolie, famous for being at the time one of the most attractive women in the world (as a marketing system informed us) starred in this crime movie where she does not much. She has a really cool name, an interesting seeming backstory, an example of a really great kind of character, and she fills the archetype and stands in the spot that archetype would stand without ever doing something so gauche as affecting the actual plot. I guess it is good that she is in the movie, because if she wasn’t, then there’s a scene which is just Nicolas Cage jerking off in his car while on a stakeout, which would be, at the least, odd.
Fox has pointed out that this particular point would make it an even better Nicolas Cage movie because it would just be an ordinary movie with something fantastically weird just happening in the middle of it.
Sway also has an immense piling of long White Girl Dreadlocks, which does not look at all good, with the benefit of hindsight.
But Sway did get lines – Sphinx got one line in the whole movie (though he also did more). Sphinx is your classical criminal hard man, played by Vinnie Jones in one of his best roles. I know, this guy played Brick Top in Snatch, he’s not bad at playing a crim. But in this movie, Sphinx is a character who communicates almost entirely through initiating actions, through starting shit, and the movie is the kind of movie where the shit that gets started gets to look really good. Yes, talking someone into pissing their pants and leaving in Snatch is fun. But in this, he introduces himself into a scene by blowing up a bunch of cars with a zippo lighter, and that’s cool.
Honestly, I think the way Sphinx was contained anger really affected me at the time. It’s not that we have any reason to think Sphinx is angry. The dude had a job, he’s a medical professional, but the second he gets the chance to come break faces to keep Nicolas Cage’s face intact, he does it, and demonstrates a kind of glee at the task that stuntcrew have to do a lot to make work. I know when I watched this movie I was a lot more inclined to outbursts than I am now, and I wonder in hindsight how much I imagined myself walking like Sphinx when I was enraged.
While we’re talking about British imports, Christopher Eccleston. My god. This man is such a great actor, I’ve loved him in everything I’ve seen and part of why is because he is so good at carrying just malice in the way he talks. When they cast him as Mr Doctor in Dr Who it took me a long while to work out why that would work, because Eccleston’s main expertise is playing a barely contained goon who talks to knives, and then I found out that that’s just exactly what they got him to play Mr. He’s the great villain in this, even if he’s something of a bookend to the movie.
Delroy Lindo’s here? He’s pretty great, even if my enduring image of him is playing out the So, say it, bit from The Good Fight.
There’s uh, there’s a dog?
Look, Gone In 60 Seconds has a metacritic score of around 35, and a Tomatometer score of about 4.4. That’s pretty reasonable, honestly — and time has not been kind to a number of the jokes. Like, this movie leads with an ‘Asians Can’t Drive’ joke, and masturbation conversation. It’s ultimately a criminal movie where the criminals can’t say fuck and that means you just do not have naturalistic dialogue to work with.
But it is a pretty fun time, even if it is a bit of a fuzzy lollipop.