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Weekend Movie Brawls #7: ‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ Battle

Hello and Happy Friday, everyone, and welcome to Weekend Movie Brawls!

Here, we take an in-depth look at films with similar themes or stories and we pit them against each other in a competition based on their merits. For example, it can be two animated films of the same type, two films which take place during a certain time period, two films with similar plots or an original film versus its remake.

The reason we make this a weekend thing is because when else might you have the time and energy to relax and see something you haven’t seen before?

It’s August and the heat is on. While the days are bright and sweltering, the nights are full of mystique, both good and bad. The halogen-lit streets are full of mystique and certain deeds are done in the shadows…and we see plenty of those in this battle as we pit both versions of “Gone in 60 Seconds” (the 1974 original and 2000 re-make) against one another!

Let’s meet our competitors…

In this corner…

1) GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

THE PLOT

Insurance Investigator by day and chop shop owner in secret, Maindrian Pace (H.B. Halicki) has been tasked by a South American drug lord to steal 48 cars in five days. Pace is so good at what he does, the first 47 aren’t an issue. It’s the 48th car, “Eleanor” (a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1), which proves to be somewhat harder to obtain than the others. The film is notable for having a 40-minute car chase which wrecked nearly 100 different cars and was shot across six cities. The film was directed by its lead actor, H.B. Halicki.

…and, in this corner…

2) GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

THE PLOT

Memphis Raines (Nicolas Cage) is a retired car thief (wonder what retirement package that comes with) who comes back into the fold after he learns that his baby brother, Kip (Giovanni Ribisi), has taken up his big brother’s line of work and is in way too deep with L.A.’s biggest mob boss, Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston). In order to save his brother’s life, Memphis must steal 50 cars in three days. Directed by Dominic Sena.

SCORING

The scoring in Weekend Movie Brawls is simple. There are five categories: music, casting, writing, production (which includes design, costumes, make-up, etc), and direction. Each of these will be awarded a letter grade, from A to F. As in school, each of these letter grades has a number associated to it. An “A” is worth 4 points, “B” is 3 points, “C” is 2 points, “D” is 1 point and “F” is worth nothing. The highest score wins.

The final scoring will not be revealed until the end of the contest.

In the event of a tie at the end of a brawl, the winner will be decided via a playoff round at a later date.

And, as always, THERE MIGHT BE SPOILERS, so if you haven’t seen these films, get out of here while you still can.

If you’re still game for this, read on!

MUSIC

Photograph by Michael Lewis
Trevor Rabin photographed by Michael Lewis at his home studio in Los Angeles CA on 6/12/15 for Variety Magazine.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

The film was mainly a family affair. Halicki’s brother, Ronald, and Philip Kachaturian conducted the score for the film. It’s basically a 1970’s action TV score, nothing particularly memorable here.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

Trevor Rabin takes over scoring duties, having done Jerry Bruckheimer’s bidding with “Con-Air” and “Armageddon”. Out of everything he’s done, I might say that this is my favorite score of his. His focus seems sharper as the rock and synth cues are beautifully mixed in with some of the non-score stuff (almost seamless with The Crystal Method’s “Busy Child” while “Always Was a Sucker for a Redhead” mixes PERFECTLY with BT’s “Never Gonna Come Back Down”). Great work.

CASTING

H.B. Halicki in 1974’s “Gone in 60 Seconds”.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

Once again, everything here is pedestrian — only what’s necessary. Nobody here is a master thespian. The premise was the main attraction. That said, everyone does their jobs, more or less. Halicki is playing a regular joe. Most of the dialogue is spoken in voice-over which is odd but adds a bit of style…but it does come off as people just sitting there at a microphone, reading lines.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

Disney had money. Lots of it. So, the cast was A-list as they come with Nicolas Cage, Giovanni Ribisi, Angelina Jolie, Will Patton, Delroy Lindo, and Robert Duvall just to name a few. It isn’t Oscar-worthy acting mainly because the dialogue is so god-awful, you can’t help but laugh at them when they try to inject some conviction into the proceedings. It works, for what it is. Any film with a cast this stacked isn’t going to have trouble attracting attention.

WRITING

Scott Rosenberg, writer of the 2000 “Gone in 60 Seconds” remake.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

Halicki “wrote” this thing. I put that in quotes because there wasn’t really a script. I’m not kidding. Everything was ad-libbed by the cast and crew. The dialogue had to be sewn together by editor Warner E. Leighton who said that he had a hell of a time trying to match footage to the recorded dialogue. That said, what’s here is just people saying things about cars and what to do next. It moves everything along. It’s the clever premise which counts…except it’s basically just an idea and nothing more.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

Scott Rosenberg wrote this thing. He puts his spin on what Halicki gave us in ’74. It has its moments. The action sequences within are great but a lot of this feels somewhat padded with a competing car thief sub-plot that’s reduced to ash in the first third of the film. Robert Duvall saying the words “Raymond Calitri is a jackal who has torn at the soft underbelly of our fair town” is SO hokey as is Nicolas Cage telling his younger flunkie thieves that their “decision-making privileges have been revoked for the next 24 hours” after one of them nearly clubs a cop in the head with a metal bar. The almost-sex scene between Cage and Jolie is cringe-worthy as they talk about boinking while stealing cars and make out and…just…no.

PRODUCTION

“Gone in 60 Seconds”, 1974

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

Here’s the meat of things. Halicki’s overall production is a cult classic. The quiet music drops, the stilted voiceover work, the shitty writing (or what there was of it) is all just precursor to one of the greatest action sequences ever committed to celluloid: an insane 40-minute car chase across Southern California which just exhausts you — albeit in a good way. It’s beautifully shot and edited and directly inspired filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino on films like “Kill Bill” and “Death Proof”.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

This is a big budget production. Big actors, an actual screenwriter, a pumping rock score (along with some choice soundtrack cuts) and some artsy cinematography. The issue with the film, however, is that, with all that Hollywood wealth, the lack of heart is evident. Whereas the original thrilled audiences with a record car chase (the longest in film history), “Gone in 60 Seconds” gives us one that’s about a little less than half that long and it’s CGI’ed in portions, which was a luxury H.B. Halicki didn’t have when he directed his film. Still, the overall production works for what it is — but it’s style over substance.

DIRECTION

(from left to right) Giovanni Ribisi, Jerry Bruckheimer, Angelina Jolie, and Nicolas Cage in 2000’s “Gone in 60 Seconds”.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974)

H.B. Halicki was committed to his craft. He wrote, produced, starred (and did his own stuntwork) AND directed this film. You can tell this was a close, personal project of his. His main goal was to entertain moviegoers. I admire that. This isn’t the greatest film of all-time or even what one would regard as a “masterpiece”…but it’s HIS masterpiece and it’s a masterpiece to nearly every single movie buff and gearhead I know. This film had conviction and Halicki’s breathless direction in the final 42 minutes of his movie buries all the other flaws I spoke about.

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (2000)

Dominic Sena was a competent director, having given us the great “Kalifornia” and the severely underrated “Swordfish”. I can see the appeal in wanting to direct a film like this given the premise and the cast…and there’s some beautiful sepia tone soaked daytime photography and all the night sequences are drenched in blue. There’s a stylish color element…but, unlike Sena’s other aforementioned efforts, this film is brainless and nowhere near the memorable film the original was.

THE WINNER

FINAL SCORING

MusicCastingWritingProductionDirectionTotals
GI60 ’741114310
GI60 ’00311229

POST-GAME THOUGHTS

I know I’m gonna sound like an ass saying this, but I am surprised at the outcome. It was a close battle. What the 1974 original lacked in quality, it made up for in overall production which goes to show you that you can have all the money in the world and you still might not have half what it takes to make something watchable. In the end, it came down to the man behind the film. The original “Gone in 60 Seconds” is one of the most memorable films of its kind and that reputation won it a victory here today.

NEXT WEEK: We’re in the dog days of August and still exploring some fairly dirty deeds…and the con is on! We’re going to find out who the real con-artist is our “Con-Artist Film Battle”…the movies will be determined so be sure to join us next week!

About Matt Perri

Matt Perri
Matt Perri is one of those literary Ronin you’ve never heard of until he shows up and tells you he’s a literary Ronin. He’s a native Californian, a film buff, old school gamer geek, and a sports/entertainment fan. A lifelong Giants, 49ers and Sharks fan, he also covers the world of pro-wrestling, writing recaps for WWE Monday Night RAW and Total Divas at Scott’s Blog of Doom. You can follow the guy on Twitter via @PerriTheSmark as well as here at The Workprint and his own blog, We Hate Your Gimmick.

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