Written by Scott Rosenberg
Directed by Dominic Sena
Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, Delroy Lindo, Will Patton, Christopher Eccleston, Chi McBride, and Robert Duvall
- “Zero to 60” script-to-screen featurette
- Car stunts featurette
- Behind the scenes featurette on the chase sequence
- Character featurettes
- Action montage
- Interview with Bruckheimer
- Music video by The Cult
Released by: Touchstone.
My Advice: Real car freaks might want to rent it just to look at the pretty pretty autos. Everybody else walk away.
[ad#longpost]If there was a single candidate in Hollywood most appropriate to remake a brainless chase movie from the early 70s, it could only be Jerry Bruckheimer, Tinsel Town’s undisputed king of big-budget brain-dead popcorn flicks. The formula is so dirt simple the mind simply boggles: get lots and lots of really really nice cars. Make them go very very fast. Occasionally, make them crash in unbelievably spectacular fashion, preferably with some explosions thrown in for good measure. This film should have been instant money, and reasonably entertaining to boot. So what happened?
The plot happened. I’ll never understand it…the one time that Bruckheimer’s particular brain-dead touch would have actually been beneficial to the film? He tries to tell a story. A stupid story, mind you, and one that doesn’t really have any depth in it, but a story. And the big car chase action sequences? Almost none, until the last reel, when we get a short sequence of Nic Cage doing improbable things in a beautiful GT 500. Had the film just lived up to one of its taglines (“Cut to the Chase”), this would have been a pretty entertaining adrenaline rush.
Unfortunately, instead we get a hundred minutes of slow-moving story and craptacular dialogue, and twenty minutes of chase sequence. Granted, that twenty minutes is some great chase work, but it still doesn’t even quite match up to DeNiro‘s Ronin, and that movie wasn’t even about high-speed cars and chases.
End result: a high-budget remake of a mediocre 70s flick that fails to do the one goddamn thing right that the original did: deliver a badass car chase. The original film made the chase the absolute focal point of the movie, clocking in at a whopping forty minutes (nearly half its total running time). Meanwhile, the update spends almost as much time on the awkward make-out scene as it does on the bloody chases. Way to fuck up a sure thing, Jerry. I’d blame the director for some of this, but honestly, I don’t see the director of Rhythm Nation 1814 getting his way in an argument with Bruckheimer. You’ve paid your dues, Dominic. Sokay. We remember Kalifornia. All is forgiven.
The actors can’t really be blamed here, either, except insofar as they actually took the script and thought it looked like it was worth doing. Hell, everybody needs the money some times–I’d have done it for the chance to drive the GT 500, myself. Everybody here is essentially phoning it in, except Cage, who apparently didn’t get the memo about the movie sucking in time to ease off on his performance. This is a bit jarring on screen, as it looks like a whole ton of people who aren’t taking this whole thing very seriously, with one lone guy in there wailing away trying to give it his best performance. It’s actually a little…well, embarassing, actually. I kept hoping that between scenes somebody would pull Cage aside and say, “Dude, this isn’t Citizen Kane…you mind toning it down a step?” It’s a shame to see such a phenomenal group of actors pulled together for a project and then promptly totally wasted.
This DVD edition promises nine minutes of new footage, but I honestly couldn’t tell you where they happen. There’s still too much fumbling dialogue and not enough high-octane tire-squealing. The Highlight Reel feature is actually kind of nice here, as it basically distills the worthwhile portions of the film into a single music-video montage of car chase goodness. I’d rather watch that three or four times in a row than sit through the movie again. Add in the Car Stunts featurette, and suddenly the bonus material is more interesting than the film itself. And fellas? A Cult music video? 1987 called. They want their pop culture has-beens back.
If you’re looking for a great chase flick, rent the original, or go give Ronin a shot…it’s only got the one real chase, but hey–there are rocket launchers involved.