Monday, September 05, 2005

The Failed Movies: 'Gone in 60 Seconds'

On paper, it all sounded so promising: A remake of a movie few have seen but some have heard about, known more for its chase finale than anything that happens before it. Add an all-star popcorn cast (Nic Cage, Angelina Jolie, etc.) and a similarly star-studded automobile lineup. Sounds great, right? I was so disappointed in 'Gone' that it began to entertain me at how it topped its ineptness with almost every scene.

BLOCKBUSTER EMPLOYEE: Wait, Frank: Didn't alot of people like this movie? Shit, didn't a new Director's Cut DVD of 'Gone' recently come out?

The worst part about (and it has a lot of contenders) is how it squandered all the potential it had, because it did look very good on paper. This is why 'Gone' falls in the 'failed' portion of DVD Panache, because there are many many bad movies, but fewer that can truly be labeled as 'failures.' The main plot failure for 'Gone' is that throughout the supposed grandiose car heist, there is zero suspense, because the cops' plan is to wait until they have stolen all the cars and THEN nab Cage and friends.

Yet the film spends so much time showing the myriad of car heists and trying to act like they're dodging all sorts of trouble, when every viewer knows that there is no way they will get caught until the very end, supposedly setting up an epic finale. This means the film is devoid of any conflict (which I thought was a central plot point for any film) until the last 15 or so minutes. Of course to create genuine emotions of suspense during all the car heists, the people behind the camera would actually have to work, which they clearly weren't interested in (this is especially evident during the final chase, more on that later).

Another failing for 'Gone' is how inept it is when dealing with the very cars they lured their audience with. The producers obviously wanted to cater to the car crowd (which included myself), but we see so very little of the hundreds of cars, it's almost not worth it. Most of the exotic cars are seen simply entering a warehouse or just leaving a curb -- WOW! If you're going to make a car movie, at least give us some worthwhile scene.

But the most memorable failing for 'Gone' has to be the final chase, which manages to be boring and maddening at the same time. I could bore you an equal amount by going on about how Eleanor is obviously a replica and does not excite any true car lovers, but I wouldn't do that to you.

The chase itself has a whole slew of missed opportunities. John Frankenheimer still holds the title for the best modern chase scenes with his memorable tire squealers in 'Ronin.' How did he do it? He made them real and didn't use cheap camera tricks like 'Gone' does, using quick cuts many interior car shots, never really giving the viewer a good look at what is really going on.

Finally, the most well-known shot in the original 'Gone' was Eleanor's magnificent jump to end the chase, which is seen by multiple angles and camera speeds. The beauty of this shot is that it looks so realistic, because of course it actually happened. There is no such beauty in the final jump of the new chase scene, because it is a CGI scene. What? You're actually going to use CGI for a damn car jump? Last I checked, there have been maybe hundreds of movies throughout the decades that have successfully filmed car jumps, and they never had to use CGI. Luckily for the lazy people behind 'Gone,' CGI was available, and they didn't have to work very hard on their big 'stunt.' Instead, we get a very cheesy effect that is clearly fake and explicitly unamusing. This uninspired effect actually made me laugh out loud in the theater because it was the perfect ending: the biggest missed opportunity of all to a movie that failed on all its potential.


Mike Sheffler said...

Just as a suspicious number of Jennifer Connely's films eventually find her standing alone, at the end of a pier, under a bright blue sky, framed from behind; Nicolas Cage flies slowly through the air in an unconvincing or -- literally -- artificial manner in a surprising majority of his films. I think it's actually written into their contracts.

The most egregious offense in Cage's oeuvre occurs durign the finale of Face Off (itself egregious for a number of other reasons). Cage and ... someone (I don't remember who, but it stands to reason that it is John Travolta, and not, for instance, someone soliciting donations for the Salvation Army) are fighting on the nose of a speedboat that runs itself up onto the beach at full speed.

Now, let us assume for a moment that the boat running aground would actually propel Cage and his enemmy upwards (in slow motion, no less) for some reason. Would it take an unnecessarily magnificent suspension of belief to conclude that this same shipwreck would make Cage a foot shorter and Mexican? I submit that it would.

This shot (nearly twenty minutes long, if I remember correctly, and I think that I do) is arguably the worst filmed and stunted scene in the history of action cinema.

Adam Ross said...

A close second to the infamous Face/Off scene (I always think of "Night Boat!" with that shot), would be the finale of "Live and Let Die," where Bond puts some kind of pill in the villain's mouth that inflates him and shoots him like a cannon to the ceiling where he explodes. Now, apparently making a bald black man look like a balloon is no easy task so this shot is intentionally made grainy and sped up to, I guess, distract the viewers of the black man balloon on the screen.