Welcome to another edition of DMV.ORG’s Friday at the Movies. It’s where we like to finish a week spent thinking about cars by popping in a car-related flick, huddling ‘round the flat screen, and fast-forwarding to all the scenes with cars in them. (We know what we like and we aren’t afraid to live our best lives.)
This week’s review centers around one pivotal question: what’s better than a car-related movie?
Answer: a car-related movie starring Nicholas Cage.
Gone in Sixty Seconds, the year 2000 version—not to be confused with the Cage-free version from 1974—is one of the best car movies out there, and one we barely have to fast-forward through at all.
It’s got Mustangs. It’s got Ferraris. It’s got Angelina Jolie driving Ferraris.
And of course, it’s got everyone’s favorite disheveled-yet-somehow-just-competent-enough actor stealing cars.
Keep on reading to find out more about the automotive madness the film entails and how it scored on our patented rating system—which we promise is only slightly contingent upon how much screen time Nicholas Cage gets.
It all starts with a beautiful display of sibling admiration, when a little brother decides he wants to follow in the footsteps of his big bro—by stealing cars.
Unfortunately for our kid brother, Kip Raines—played by Giovanni Ribisi—he’s not quite as deft at the trade as his older sibling, Randall “Memphis” Raines, AKA Nick Cage. While attempting to lift 50 luxury vehicles for high-powered gangster Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston), Kip can’t help but attract the attention of the police. That spurs the seizure of the stolen inventory and a fresh investigation into the car thefts.
Even less fortunately, the muck up ends up getting Kip kidnapped by said high-powered gangster. Our baby bro nearly gets killed for his error in judgement, too, but thankfully his negotiation instincts are better than his car stealing skills. Instead, Kip works out a deal. If his brother, who has long-since quit the car thieving game, can successfully steal all 50 autos within 72 hours, Calitri will let him go.
The only problem: the cops are already onto the car theft ring. So Memphis, fresh out of retirement and abetted by his loyal former crew, decides if he and his gang are going to pull this deal off at all, the faster the better.
He gives the group 12 hours to steal the order of 50 cars. And the race is on.
Do you prefer a little bit of Eleanor in your life? How about a little bit of Madeline by your side?
No, we’re not referencing the 1999 classic hit Mambo No. 5. (But we’ll link to that catchy sucker of a tune all day. Thanks, Nicholas Cage!) We’re talking about cars and code names and the inner-workings of professional thieves.
With such a lengthy list of orders to go through, Memphis and his gang give each one of the 50 requested cars a female moniker. This helps to keep track of their work and avoid the detection of police—or just your random curious civilian.
And while there seems to be no rhyme or reason behind the names they use, there’s certainly a running theme with the cars. They’re the kind that are worth all the legal trouble.
(Except for maybe “Grace,” the 2000 Rolls Royce stretch limo. What are you going to do with that thing, open your own ride service?)
With the clock for Kip’s life ticking, the group makes quick work checking off that list, nabbing Stacy, the ’57 Corvette Stingray; Madeline, the 1959 Cadillac Eldorado; Laura, the 1999 Bentley Azure; and Lindsey, the 1999 Bentley Arnage, with relative ease (and lots of style points).
The car-happy gang also hits the jackpot at one point, discovering, within that precarious 12-hour window, a venerable Ferrari wonderland.
The garage from Heaven allows them to check a number of the priciest rides off their list. That includes Diana, the ’95 Ferrari 355B; Rose, an ’87 Testarossa; and the gorgeous Nadine, a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4.
(Though funnily, the ’99 Ferrari 550 Maranello on the gang’s list, codename Angelina, wasn’t one of the Ferraris stored in that insane luxury garage – we can only guess because it would be too confusing for the audience to hear that Angelina Jolie, who plays fellow thief/Nick Cage love interest Sara “Sway” Wayland, was involved in stealing herself.)
Gee, We Think You’re Swell
Of course, in every person’s life, there’s always The One That Got Away.
For Nick Cage, that One isn’t someone as common as Angelina Jolie; it’s Eleanor, the 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500, a beautiful testament to machinery everywhere.
But it’s not just sentimental value that makes Memphis want to save “the best for last.” He places the job at the end of the list as the car has always been cursed for him.
Memphis and Eleanor have had a contentious relationship, to say the least. The vehicle nearly killed the man off on a number of previous occasions—all aborted attempts at stealing the ride.
Ever the romantic, Nick goes back to visit his old flame one more time before his final attempt to lift her. But, true to his superstitious word, the car once again turns out to be problematic. L.A.’s finest finally crack the codename list and stake out Eleanor’s garage, giving chase to Memphis when he finally pulls the job.
The movie’s final car chase scene is intense, high-adrenaline, and many, many minutes long, with police chasing Memphis through most of L.A. and all the way down to the docks of Long Beach.
(On their way there, the pursuit even passes by the infamous Thunder Road, where many serious drivers, plus John Travolta, have staged their own high-stakes races over the years.)
The driving is undoubtedly tricky, and while the numbers aren’t in Memphis’ favor (there’s only one of him, compared to a whole platoon of police), it seems the boys in blue have a much more difficult time navigating the streets.
One by one, squad cars by the myriad obstacles in their way, including a bus…
…an errant gas tank, that takes its own joyride around the Long Beach docks, bouncing and blasting into the way of a number of vehicles, and a wrecking ball that smashes a police SUV straight through a brick wall.
Still, Nicholas Cage manages to thwart them all, until he finds one obstacle he can’t stunt-drive his way around: a narrow bridge, hosting a classic bit of L.A. dead-stop traffic, thanks to an accident being cleaned up.
But the clock is still ticking and with his little brother’s life hanging in the balance. So Memphis does what every person who’s sat through L.A. dead-stop traffic has only dared to dream: he revs the Shelby’s engine all the way up and uses a conveniently-placed ramp to launch himself and Eleanor over the entire back-up.
Gone in Sixty Seconds has it all: a jaw-dropping array of mechanical beauties, cardio-pumping illegal activity, excellent driving, and—yes, we’re going to say it one more time, but it can’t be said enough—Nicholas Cage. For its excess of awesome, we award the flick a 9 out of 10, with a bonus Lou Bega award for keeping the Long List of Female Names concept so hot at the turn of the millennium.
Check out more of our Friday at the Movies features:
- The Blues Brothers
- The French Connection
- Smokey and the Bandit
- National Lampoon's Vacation