Navarre // 1983 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // March 13th, 2004
Sometimes before I review a disc, I have a notion as to what "the hook" will be for its upcoming review. For Deadline Auto Theft, I had a general idea formulated: I thought I was going to talk about how I have now seen two out of the three films in the Gone in 60 Seconds Trilogy, which are Gone in 60 Seconds, The Junkman, and Deadline Auto Theft. That will not be the case, for a far better topic reared its ugly head as I watched the last completed film by the "Car Crash King," H.B. "Toby" Halicki. I'll get to that hook a bit later.
Before I move on, I want to clarify something that confused me and also seems to be a general misconception out there. Deadline Auto Theft is not also known as Gone in 60 Seconds 2. The latter is a distinct and separate movie that was never finished by Halicki, who was killed in a freak accident during filming. I presume it would have turned the "trilogy" into a "quadrilogy," but that will never be.
Maindrian Pace (Halicki) is an insurance investigator by day and a professional auto thief by night...and by day, actually. Pace has just become enemy-number-one in the eyes of Captain Gibbs by stealing the car of his obnoxious future son-in-law. Gibbs, after having his entire department affronted and humiliated by Pace in that chase, has decried that he will catch that man, no matter the cost.
Undaunted, Pace has received an order for 48 specific specialty cars from one of his regular buyers, and he intends to fill the order. Though he has just a few days to complete this massive order, Pace and his gang do so with time to spare. But a problem arises when one of the cars, a '73 Mach 1 Ford Mustang, turns out to be uninsured. Pace won't steal an insured car, so he returns the Mustang and goes hunting for a new one.
Betrayed by one of his men, the police are there as Pace steals the new Eleanor, the codename given to the car. And so begins a breakneck chase through the streets of Long Beach. Will Pace fill his order before Captain Gibbs or any of the police capture him?
Here's the P.R. tagline from the back of the DVD:
"It's the best of Gone in 60 Seconds and The Junkman!"
Logically, as this is billed "the third in the trilogy" and those in the tagline are the first two in the series, one would tend to believe that this film is going to regurgitate and revamp the most exciting action scenes from the others and wrap them around a thin, new plot. It's going to be the best this time because it learned which boring parts to exclude.
This movie is the biggest rip-off I have ever seen. Deadline Auto Theft is the "best of" the other two films because it is those two other films. They re-cut and re-edited those movies to create Deadline. Nowhere on the packaging did I get the impression that this film wasn't an original. All they did was take a chase from The Junkman and insert it at the beginning of Gone in 60 Seconds. Captain Gibbs is then spliced into an occasional scene throughout the rest of the presentation, and that's it! Who would have thought they'd have the audacity to call this a "third movie in a trilogy"? I felt so thoroughly cheated after this one. I can't recall another situation like this, simply re-tooling a movie and slapping a new name on it. That's cheap. That's low. That's just dishonest.
As I think you would imagine, I found little to enjoy this time around. Gone in 60 Seconds wasn't that memorable the first time, so I didn't appreciate the deception in forcing me to watch the movie again just on the slim chance something new would be inserted along the way. Once you get past the car chase down the canal, it's all about Eleanor. What a cheap way to earn a buck!
There is some small measure of redemption to be found, thanks to the small selection of bonus items on the disc:
* Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (34 minutes): Halicki always shot his action
footage first, so there's a lot to see in this unfinished piece. This time we
get to watch Halicki outsmart a couple hundred more cops using a variety of cars
and a helicopter. The kicker to this film would have been the specially designed
"Slicer" car. If you've watched Robot Wars, then you'll
understand the concept of a wedge-shaped car. The Slicer could get through any
mess by simply driving through it. Are there a couple of cars in the way? No
problem. The Slicer will just flip those cars and drive away. This is a pretty
nice piece of work, which would have been made boring by the inevitable bad
acting and plot to be added later. The quality of this bonus item is very good,
as it's in 1.85:1 anamorphic, and you can choose from among a DTS, a Dolby
Digital 5.1, and a DD 2.0 mix. There's also a car crash counter to tally up the
score (which is also available on the main feature as well). It's all ridiculous
but fun stuff.
* "Shoestring Showman: The Life and High Times of H.B. 'Toby' Halicki" (45 minutes): A rather dull and uninspired look at the life of Halicki. This made-for-TV special focuses a lot of time on Gone in 60 Seconds and heaps tons of praise on Halicki. I learned a few things, but I hate to say it wasn't a good feature. I even dozed off for a few minutes.
* Trailers for Gone in 60 Seconds, The Junkman, and Deadline Auto Theft
(Note that Deadline Auto Theft and Gone in 60 Seconds 2 each have a one-minute introduction from Denice Halicki.)
Since Deadline Auto Theft is an amalgamation of two other films, you are definitely going to get some inconsistencies in the video and audio. Surprisingly, they aren't as obvious as the changes in fashion and styles between the two movies. This newly restored and remastered film is presented in a fresh new 1.85:1 anamorphic print. I thought it looked pretty good for its age, but it still was very soft, lacking detail and sharpness, with a little bit of blurring, and an odd "stutter frame" problem that happened a few times. You can see a little difference in the two movie prints, but it's not a glaring problem. For the audio, you have three choices: DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DD 2.0. I flipped between the DD 5.1 and DTS tracks, with DTS being my primary choice, and they both really have a lot of kick. During the chase scenes, you are immersed with a ton of engine noise and directional effects. However, the dialogue is pretty thin at times, with some echo too. As always, if you have a DTS receiver, then that is your best, most dynamic choice.
The only redeeming feature for me here was Captain Gibbs. Though onscreen for no more than 10 minutes, he seemed to be the only person in the entire film(s) who could act. It might be interesting to take a peek at The Junkman to see what he did in that film.
I really felt like I was lied to with this film. Though expecting a new chase film, I was treated to a best-of clip show. To me, that's false advertising. I'm left with a very sour taste in my mouth. Because there is nothing new to the movie, I'm absolutely not recommending this one to you. It's a complete rip-off that's just there to steal your money. What a cheap and lousy stunt, Halicki.
I hereby find Deadline Auto Theft guilty of grand theft auto, identity theft, and perjury.
Review content copyright © 2004 Eric Profancik; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1983
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Gone in 60 Seconds 2
* "Shoestring Showman": The Life and High Times of H.B. "Toby" Halicki
* Crash Counter
* Trailers for Gone in 60 Seconds, The Junkman, and Deadline Auto Theft
* DVD Verdict Review: Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)