GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974) – This film has a legendary status, largely for the 2nd half of the film and its audacious car chase scene, but man is that first half of the film rough watching. It is definitely of its time, and you can appreciate how ground breaking it was at the time, for its insiders view of car theft. But with amateur actors, pedestrian camera work (the scenes at night are all but pitch black, and even during the day under-lit), dialogue all but unintelligible, and the plot a bit muddy, necessitating a lot of the awkward voice over in the film, it is not a great or even particularly good first half. It is definitely a film that was obviously pieced together in the editing room, especially the first 30 minutes.
However, despite these issues of film-making and acting, the underlying story is relatively simple, and relatively intriguing. A band of car thieves have a deadline to steal 48 cars for a client, a connected underworld figure, or suffer that client’s wrath.
And the film manages to get, despite its flaws, ever more engrossing; and nearing the hour mark you are solidly in insane car chase mode, and the car chase scenes, as opposed to the other scenes, are shot very excitingly and dynamically, and the movie burns rubber into showing you why it is almost 50 years later still a car chase classic. The passion project of H.B. “Toby” Halicki, a stunt driver/coordinator, who writes, directs, produces, and is the star of this film, doing all his stunts (one of the jumps nearly cripping him) this is the JOHN WICK of its day, but with cars.
The crazy, car destroying, city and highway and pedestrian involved and insurance defying extremes of this film, as the 2000 remake found out, you can not recreate today. We lack in our plastic, bumperless, age; the infrastructure to support… the anarchy of iron and the empire of steel, that Halicki called in every favor and every friend… to capture on film. Today we can make better controlled and better looking Car Chase films, but we can not make crazier films. This is arguably one of the craziest and most audacious car chase films ever devised.
And likely GONE WITH 60 SECONDS (1974) will always remain a car chase classic, for the fact that we are moving away from an age where the car chase is even possible. A new generation of lojacked, and speed limited, and computer controlled cars, AI meets drone surveillance meets remote shutoff, will make the car chases in films like GONE IN 60 SECONDS… the stuff of fantasy. The stuff of legend.
And as America’s continuing love affair with the Western shows, it is nothing we love to hold onto more… than our legends of an open range.
So overall while not a great film, GONE IN 60 SECONDS has a great car chase, and is definitely a must watch for any fans of car chase movies. Also, while the chase in this movie is the stuff of fantasy, I like how it shows the reality of any such chase, in terms of not just destroyed cars, but damaged and dying people. I like how the film takes time to show the first re-sponders who have to cut people out of cars and put out fires. Grade: C+. Catch it courtesy of Amazon Streaming.