Dominic Sena (2000, Touchstone Pictures)
Starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi, and
A car theft team gets together one last time to steal 50 cars, or
one of them will die.
March 18th, 2001 on Video
A fun, zany, action-packed car film, which was much better when
dealing with characters than it was dealing with the cars.
The character of Memphis Raines was compelling, compassionate, and professional. He cared so much about his family that he left the car thieving business so that his little brother wouldn't follow his footsteps, something that would break his mother's heart and spirit. Unfortunately, his brother, Kip, follows anyway, and messes up the job. The big bad guys capture him and nearly kill him, unless Memphis is able to get the 50 cars he needs within three days.
One day is spent trying to get his old team back together. But the police detective who spent his life chasing Raines shows up on his doorstep, warning him not to get back involved.
There is a cute subplot with a rival gang of youngsters, who try to rough up the Raines brothers, and ends with a scene that must have been inspired by American Graffiti, with the front wheels being pulled off the gang's car.
The real meat is how Raines pulls his team together and plans the "boost". The plan is rigorously developed, but they all know that pulling 50 cars in one night is going to be impossible. Half the cars are common enough that they will be easy, and can be brought to the shipping yards within hours. The other half require real research, which contains some really humourous moments.
The actual boost is way too long in execution. Most of it consists of the team unlocking doors and pulling the starters out. There are some hitches, which are all fun to see, but in the end, they are not even much of a challenge. There is the couple who decides to make love in full view of their fantastic car, the police who drop in on the parking garage with the HumVee (and get pushed over a ledge, with no visible damage to the HumVee), and a few others.
The Mercedes are tough, because the laser-cut keys cannot be duplicated except by the German manufacturer. But one of the guys had an inside man, who is being watched by police. So they are almost caught when they almost take the Mercedes. They decide to take the easier ones from the police impound yard instead!
The last car is of course, the trickiest. Raines has never successfully pulled off a theft of this type of Mustang. And he almost doesn't get away with it now. The cop figures out the last car and shows up just an instant too late, so that a giant car chase can take place. That was neat for the first ten minutes. Actually less. It turned into a
drive-turn-corner- straight-turn-corner- U-turn, and so on. The finale, where he takes a ramp to jump over an ambulance and a multi-car pile-up was also neat.
Of course, he doesn't make it, and the guy who "hired" him has been waiting for an opportunity to kill him. Oddly, he also destroys the car, when he said specifically earlier in the film that he needed 50 cars or he would lose all business. His ship only had 49. Even damaged, it could have been repaired.
Kip Raines always resented his brother for walking away, but realizes why it
was necessary after a friend of his is shot in one of the last cars. Memphis' friend tells him that it was their mother who asked him to leave, so that nobody else would die. And so they make their way to the
scrap yard, where they arrive just in time to rescue Memphis. This scene didn't fit in with the rest of the movie, as the two people about to shoot Memphis decide not to as a stranger walks up to them, just so they can have their guns turned on themselves and get whacked by the car crane.
Memphis then goes after his "employer", and the cop shows up, too. Memphis gets in a few nice blows, but almost gets shot in the process. The cop ends up on the end of the gun, though, and it takes Memphis to save him, killing the Evil Man. The cop then lets him go, "before I change my mind".
The adrenaline was really pumping in this movie, and it was extremely enjoyable. Typically, it didn't have much substance, but it was the type of movie that didn't need substance. It worked by its own rules, which was to enjoy itself. The plotting was great, but worked best when dealing with the characters. The car theft was also quite fun; it wasn't until afterwards that I realized that there wasn't much there. I found the final car chase too long, but for some people, it probably wasn't long enough. It sure showed off the car, though.
About all I can say about the rest of the cars is the same as for the Mustang:
Wow! What great cars! And that's what this movie set out to do.