Making its Blu-ray debut in a combo pack — albeit one saddled with the silly subtitle of Car Crash King Edition — the film features writer/director/producer Halicki as its protagonist, too: an insurance investigator named Pace (get it?) who makes better money heading an illegal car-theft ring and chop shop that’s more or less wallpapered in Playboy centerfolds.
With an offer of $200,000 upfront, Pace and his crew are tasked with stealing with 48 cars — all insured, mind you — and getting them to the docks before the deadline. All goes smoothly, rendered largely in a lighthearted montage, except for a ’73 Mustang code-named Eleanor. That one falls to Pace and accounts for the aforementioned epic chase sequence that is the real reason for Gone‘s existence.
Halicki wasn’t what you’d call a good actor; I don’t even think charisma appears onscreen. As a stunt driver, however, he was tops, and we root for the guy to succeed in spades — but not too quickly, lest we be denied one of history’s finest examples of cinematic carmageddon. Forget the throwaway nonsense of the tiger hiding in a backseat or the African-American youths smoking tons of reefer like stereotypes should; 60 Seconds‘ continued cult status lives and dies on those 40 minutes — occasionally inventive, always exciting, highly repeatable.
It all comes back to that: The preponderance of ADR dialogue annoys? Here, please accept these POV highway shots as an apology, OK? OK!
I only wish this cut weren’t appended with 2000 footage of Halicki’s widow, Denice, riding shotgun as the now-battered Eleanor does loop-de-loops on a closed track. That kind of thing is best relegated to the Blu-ray’s extras section.
And in that department, this Car Crash King Edition truly
accels excels. Anchoring said bonus material is a 45-minute documentary made for the Speed cable channel, Shoestring Showman: The Life and High Times of H.B. “Toby” Halicki, which gives as good and honest portrait of the man as we’re likely to get. I admire his determination to not only get Gone made outside the studio system, but also sell the hell out of it himself. He deserves more credit as an indie filmmaker than Hollywood history currently allows. Still, his friends and colleagues aren’t blinded, noting that Gone, his greatest legacy, is a movie “built rather than scripted” and “short on story, but long on action.”
For all its narrative deficiencies, Gone in 60 Seconds made for such an enjoyable ride that I want to see Halicki’s other pictures, such as The Junkman and Deadline Auto Theft. Unfortunately, they’re currently unavailable; fortunately, the extras’ “Cut to the Chases” feature condenses those flicks into mini-movies. Until those titles escape out-of-print status and follow this one to Blu-ray, these all-action abridged versions will have to do. —Rod Lott