The Italian Job

The Italian Job


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Rest assured. Memories of Michael Caine and his Roman holiday are safe. This alleged remake of the classic Sixties Brit heist flick has been Hollywoodised out of existence. No one says: "You're supposed to blow the bloody doors off," and the best thing in it is a girl (Charlize Theron).

What you have is a standard formulaic thriller, dependent upon technological gizmos, buddy-buddy performances and a totally unbelievable storyline. Mark Wahlberg, who uses the same name as Caine's character - Charlie Croker - could have been played by a clockwork radio.

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It does involve stolen gold, three Mini Coopers and a half-baked chase sequence through a gridlocked city - Los Angeles, this time - but everything else is made up or made down, depending on what you thought of the original.

Charlie is supposed to have an exceptional criminal mind. You have to take this on trust, because he doesn't act very cleverly. He plans the first robbery in Venice, which involves the theft of gold ingots worth $35million. This gives the stuntmen something to do and is reminiscent of those pre-credit James Bond escapades.

Afterwards, he is double-crossed and one of the gang murdered. The rest of the movie goes under the heading, The Revenge, as the good/bad guys, plus the daughter of their slain compatriot, who happens to be a world class safe cracker, attempt to steal back what remains of the Italian gold.

Every gang member is a specialist. Unlike Charlie, they have personalities. Handsome Rob (Jason Statham) drives cars like Michael Schumacher. The Napster (Seth Green) does magic with computers. Left Ear (Mos Def) is the explosives whiz and Wrench (Frank G) comes along later to sex up the Minis.

You keep watching because you want to see them do their thing, although it's less exciting than Jamie Oliver in the kitchen with an egg whisk. Subplots flicker on the edge of the action, involving Albanian Mafia types and an immensely large man with tattoos, called Skinny Pete, but don't make a whole lot of sense. Essentially, the new, unimproved version is as simple as falling off a gondola - you take my booty, I take it back, how's yer father?

What is it about the lady that makes her their secret weapon? She's not a bloke with a toy for starters and she's damnably fit. Also, there are moments when she appears to believe in what she's doing.

You wouldn't want to blow her doors off in a hurry.

Reviewed on: 18 Sep 2003
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American remake of the classic Sixties Brit heist flick, involving gold ingots and Mini Coopers
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Director: F Gary Gray

Writer: Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, based on the screenplay by Troy Kennedy-Martin

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def, Frank G, Olek Krupa, Gawtti

Year: 2003

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US/France/UK


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