Top Gear

Fast cars and Angelina Jolie add up to a humdinger of a movie.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who's produced films like "Con Air", comes up with a brilliant re-working of the 1974 classic by the same name.

Memphis Raines (Nicholas Cage) is a retired car thief of legendary status. His younger brother Kip (Giovanni Ribisi - Frank Jr. from "Friends") ends up in the same line of business and messes up a major job. His boss, the ruthless Raymond Callitri gives Memphis an ultimatum - steal fifty cars in three days or Kip dies.

Memphis turns to his old buddies, who include a car restorer, Otto (Robert Duvall) and a very sexy Sway (Angelina Jolie). Aided by other characters and Kip's own team of young techno-experts, they go about making plans to "boost" these cars. Included in the list of cars is a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT 500, nicknamed "Eleanor", a car which has always proven unlucky for Memphis. All this is to be done while the law - in the form of tough, mean Detective Castlebeck (Dennis Lindo) - waits for the team to make a mistake. The movie then moves to the last night before the deadline expires, where they go about stealing all the cars and which includes a tremendous chase sequence.

The plot is pretty simple and the basic appeal of the movie even more so - it's all about the cars. Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Fords - the gleaming, shiny pieces of art are the real stars of the film. But that does not mean that the pretty impressive star cast does not make an impact. The characters are varied enough and have quite a few decent lines to add to the attraction of the film. Most of them have appeared in previous Bruckheimer productions like "Armageddon", and are pretty slick and convincing.

There is little to fault with the direction and the editing. The best part is the action on the final night. The car chase is truly phenomenal and is sure to make even jaded viewers hold their breath at times. The director also throws in a few asides which are mildly compelling, like Memphis's fascination with the Mustang, which he compares to a Unicorn, and has always tried to steal. Also, there is a sibling situation which develops in the course of the movie.

The actors manage to hold their own. Nicholas Cage turns in a predictably solid performance and is ably aided by the others. Angelina Jolie manages to make an impact inspite of her limited appearances, simply by dint of a few looks and some killer lines.

The overall effect of the movie is stunning and it is sure to keep you riveted from the opening sequence to the final emotional end. Definitely worth driving down to your local theatre for.

This article was first published on 17 Jul 2000.