There are so-bad-it's-good movies, so-bad-it's-bad movies, and so-bad-it's-just-boring movies. Unfortunately, 'Gone in 60 Seconds' straddles the line between all three. Rare have I seen a movie jump from one cool scene to one dismal scene to one hilariously inept scene so many times in 118 minutes. It was enough to make my head spin, and I soon wanted to just throw down my remote and go watch one of the 'Fast and the Furious' flicks instead. Because at least those films know what they are -- good car porn, nothing more -- and aren't pretentious about it. 'Gone in 60 Seconds' is the kind of film that takes itself a bit too seriously, and would have been a lot more fun if it hadn't.
Kip (Giovanni Ribisi) is an aspiring car thief in Long Beach, California, who has just screwed up a job so badly it may cost him his life. Demanding payback, his boss, hot car broker Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston), is giving Kip only 24 hours to steal 50 cars -- or Kip will find himself in one at the bottom of the ocean. So Kip calls on his brother, Randall 'Memphis' Raines (Nicolas Cage), a legend in the profession, to bail him out. Realizing he's going to have to pull off the carjack of the century, Memphis pulls together his old ring of thieves to put an end to Calitri and save Kip.
Based on that plot description, 'Gone in 60 Seconds' probably sounds like a gas, and at times, it is. But director Dominic ('Kalifornia,' 'Swordfish') Sena directs with a surprisingly heavy hand. With a downbeat tone more akin to a Martin Scorsese crime pic and a dark and gritty visual style that seems nicked from all of David Fincher's work, 'Gone in 60 Seconds' is at odds with itself. Here is a script that on paper seems like a total blast, yet no one who made it seems to be having much fun. Really, now, can we take any of this hokum seriously? (And, by the way, how the heck did Robert Duvall get roped into this movie!?) 'Gone in 60 Seconds' wastes little time on exploring its characters or creating a believable milieu, so it fails as a crime story. Yet it also never delivers the kind of balls-to-the-wall, suspenseful action we want from a silly high-concept car crash movie.
Still, I found a few things to enjoy in 'Gone in 60 Seconds.' Cage and Jolie are always fun to watch, and Jolie especially has enough raw sexual energy to cut glass. She appears to be the only one who realizes this kind of film is about posing, not performing, and she's far cooler than even the hottest car in the movie. There are also a couple of exciting car chase sequences that, if not up to the level of the best of the 'Fast and the Furious' flicks, are still fun to watch. And Sena, despite his sourpuss dramatics, knows how to lay on the MTV gloss. 'Gone in 60 Seconds' always looks great, and almost succeeds in making carjacking look like the ultimate dream job.
'Gone in 60 Seconds' makes its Blu-ray debut in a very nice 2.35:1, 1080p transfer. Unlike the other titles in Disney's second wave of Blu-ray releases that I've reviewed thus far ('The Haunted Mansion' and 'Dark Water'), this one is encoded in AVC/MPEG-4. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with it, but I was a bit more impressed with 'Gone in 60 Seconds' versus those other efforts. It a bit more film-like, detailed and cleaner, and ultimately a better representation of what high-def is capable of.
A very dark film, 'Gone in 60 Seconds' seems as if it was shot almost entirely at night. Good thing, then, that the source material here is in such fine shape. Blemishes and dropouts are non-existent, and blacks deep and pure. The film's color palette is a bit subdued, with dark blues, greens and reds the predominant hues, but it's a vivid and stable picture throughout. Colors are nice and clean and free of smearing. Detail is also impressive, despite how overt stylization. The high end of the grayscale does seem somewhat pumped up, but whites don't suffer from blooming. Shadow delineation is also above par, with fine details apparent in the shadows with no crushing.
I do have a couple of quibbles. Some slight edge enhancement is noticeable. Perhaps in part this has something to do with all the chrome and rigid contours of the cars in the film, but thin halos around sharply-contrasted objects were nevertheless distracting. I also spotted what looked like noise in a few solid areas of picture, and slight posterization. The latter is really only obvious during a couple of moments, most noticeably during a dissolve to a heavily-filtered skyline, so it could just as easily be a hardware issue. Thankfully, film grain remains in check, so aside from the occasional moments of edginess and noise, this is a very strong presentation.
Disney has given 'Gone in 60 Seconds' the uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround treatment (at 48mHz/24-bit), and it is another solid effort. However, the film's sound design is not as spirited as I had hoped, so despite the technical merits of this mix, it left me feeling a bit underwhelmed.
Dynamic range is a bit top-heavy. Mid- and high-range are excellent, with an very natural feel to discrete sounds and the score. Subtle shadings to such studio-constructed sounds as revving engines and scraping metal never sound anything less than totally realistic. However, low end is flatter than expected. There is just not as much oomph to this one, at least compared to other recent Blu-ray titles I've heard, such as Disney's 'Dinosaur' and Sony's 'Stealth.' Surround use is also a bit sporadic. Any scene involving a moving vehicle is of course wildly aggressive, with frequent cross-channel pans and tight imagining. However, atmosphere is quite lacking during non-action moments -- some score bleed and the odd sound effect is all we get. Bottom line, 'Gone in 60 Seconds' sounds good. Sometimes very good. Just not great.
'Gone in 60 Seconds' has been released twice before on standard-def DVD, first as a standard special edition, the second time in a more feature-loaded Unrated Director's Cut (featuring nine minutes of additional footage). Unfortunately, as with the recent 'Dark Water,' Disney has opted to drop the extended cut on Blu-ray and stick with the theatrical version only. And that's a real bummer, because we early adopters are the biggest sticklers for "retaining the original vision of the filmmaker," so hopefully the studios will become cognizant of that fact when they put together future next-gen releases.
Anyway, we get but one single supplement from the previous DVDs. "The Big Jump" takes a behind-the-scenes look at the film's "spectacular" bridge sequence, which admittedly is pretty cool. Director Dominic Sena takes us through the conception and execution of the scene, though at a little less than five minutes, this is hardly substantial.
None of the other, nearly hour's worth of material from the other releases is here, nor are any theatrical trailers. So the extras on the Blu-ray can't help but be a disappointment.
'Gone in 60 Seconds' is a fairly entertaining diversion. Still, given its interesting premise and strong cast, I thought it could have been much more than just another brainless action flick. As a Blu-ray release, this one delivers a very good transfer and solid soundtrack, plus a couple of decent extras. Nothing top-of-the-line here for the format, but a perfectly respectable effort that fans of car porn should enjoy.