My Buddy is a Cage – Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

Matchstick Men was my virginal entry into the Cage brand of heist films, and thank heavens I enjoyed it because what follows is an attempt to dissect banality in its rankest form.

When police stumble upon Christopher Eccleston’s operation to jack fifty cars in three days, well-meaning fuck-up Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) takes the fall, and his ex-con brother Memphis (Cage) has to pick up the slack, lest he risk his kid bro dying in some elaborate junkyard accident. With even less time and even more pressure, Memphis must corral his old posse together for one last heist, all the while evading the dopiest pair of cops (Delroy Lindo, Timothy Olyphant) this side of a Marvel sequel.

Underwhelming isn’t the right word, and yet boring doesn’t do justice to how contrived Gone in Sixty Seconds is. An action film with cars and one-liners was all I came in expecting, and director Dominic Sena fails to even deliver on those easily attainable checkpoints. The post-viewing ritualistic tango me and my VLC player have for each screen capture session quickly confirmed that. Gone is a film about stealing cars, but you couldn’t find a noteworthy shot to steal from it. It’s as if someone set out to make a genre piece, and then undercut the essential elements.

What Gone excels at is telling the viewer how to feel, mainly through what Classicists refer to as ‘script bludgeoning’. Take Memphis’ rag-tag squad of saps and burnouts, where the story devolves from an actual narrative into one of those audio headsets they hand out on cheap tours: This one’s the tech guy. This one’s the hacker guy. This one’s the strong silent guy. This guy’s really a tomboy who shares a forlorn love story with Nic Cage that we won’t try to hamfist into the story for another forty-five minutes. If your high school TV production class remade Ocean’s Eleven, it would rival the modicum of screen presence these mouthbreathing dipshits collectively muster up. Their sole purpose is as a Chino-bred Greek chorus: That ride is so sick! Jolie is so fine! I don’t understand what any of you jagweeds are saying. Everyone is so impressed and astonished with each other, and precisely none of that admiration is earned. It’s as if the screenwriters showed so little confidence in their characters that they anticipated viewers’ similar reactions and crammed in emotional street signs to make sure we were watching this turd the right way.

Oh, and Angelina Jolie as “Sway.” THE FUCK. From the oh-so-forced bad girl motorcycle to the oh-so-forced blonde dreads, Jolie is utter dreck. Only a twad pocket with a name like ‘Memphis Raines’ could have a thing for this woman. What is attractive about this character? More importantly, is it possible to be so laid back you topple over? The burnout look works for a select group of new age femme fatales, but “Sway” is no Marla Singer. The nappy hairstyle and oversized trench coat reek of an incoherent heroin addict who drinks water (?) out of gasoline jugs.

The stupidest.

With its endless buildup to a mega heist that is neither interesting or satisfying, Gone in Sixty Seconds is blue balls on cinema. Early on, Scott Caan’s stupid character, whose stupid nickname I can’t even remember, utters some pointless throwaway anecdote about his latest sex act, “The Stranger,” where he sits on his hand until it numbs and then proceeds to nurk his throbber to climax. Someone’s jerking me off here, and I’m not sure who.

As if to hammer its short-changing home, Gone doesn’t even dispense with the Cage as I’ve now come to expect, or in this case, desperately crave. Early on, he hams it up in a dealership, sniffing out the whereabouts of a ’67 Shelby Mustang GT, the heist’s crown jewel, but excising the general blah of Memphis as a character, it’s minor. I guess if the prospect of Cage pleading into a steering wheel sounds appetizing, bottom’s up:

A suspension of disbelief is endemic to a large majority of narrative films. Gone in Sixty Seconds is a suspension of disinterest, and it does not succeed. I don’t care about ‘Memphis Raines,’ his terrible pornstar moniker or his sloppily etched backstory. He’s got a backstory with that ’67 Ford MacGuffin. He’s got a backstory with the local fuzz. He’s got a backstory with a blonde-haired sewer rat. Everything in this is abbreviated and frustrating, melting together in a paradoxically lethargic 118 minutes. I care so very little.

A small rush of relief washed over me when Master P popped up onscreen, a sentence never before committed to the internet.

* * * * *

Want more Cage? You got it.


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