Starring: Nicolas Cage, Robert Duvall, Christopher Eccleston
Director: Dominic Sena
THE title of this film refers to how long it takes a professional car thief to steal a car.
If only the film lasted as long as the theft takes! Unfortunately we get 7140 seconds during which to ponder the code of honour among car thieves. Gone in 60 Seconds is targeted at young men who dream about owning, caring for and driving expensive cars. This film could be a case study for Sigmund Freud’s theory about sexual displacement.
Memphis Raines (played by Nicolas Cage) is a notoriously successful car thief in LA. His mother, Helen (Grace Zabriskie), was worried about the bad example he was setting Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), his younger brother, so he went straight and now runs a garage and a dodgem car circuit for children. Kip becomes an
unsuccessful car thief and incurs the deadly wrath of the arch car villain, Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston). Memphis has to come out of retirement and steal 50 cars in three days to repay the family debt and save his brother’s life.
I wish I could dismiss this film as “petrol head” escapism. I was in the cinema with 300 young men (and a few brave girlfriends) who yelled the place down as Cage went through his tricks. They loved it and that worries me.
This film trades on the belief that “grand theft auto” is not that serious. It also promotes the idea that car thieves are just honourable working-class lads whose love for “the wheels” makes them steal other people’s property. Apart from the absurd determinism in this idea, the thieving of the 50 cars in this film leads to car chases where hundreds of people are put at risk, to gun battles, murders, destruction of property, home invasion, assaults and redeployment of all types of police resources. Gone in 60 Seconds is appallingly sexist. There are two human female leads: Cage’s mother who frets about her boys and “Sway” Wayland (Angelina Jolie), the car gang’s moll, who parades around as a car thief too, but who is more interested in settling down with Cage. The non-human female leads are the 50 cars to be stolen. All of them have female names and so the film perpetuates the patriarchal idea that cars are like But there’s more. This is a racist film as well. The Asians cop it for being poor drivers and the Hollywood cliche of the really evil Englishman reappears as well.
The curious morality of this film rests on what a man has to do for the sake of “brotherly love”.
The tragedy is that millions of young men across the world will see this film and drink deeply of its dreadful values.