Retro Review: The Italian Job

Written: June 2003

One part “The Score”, two parts “Ocean’s Eleven”, a twist of “The Heist” and shake then serve chilled at a European locale. This is the almost recipe for “The Italian Job”.

“The Italian Job” is a film loosely inspired by the cult British film of the same name. In the way that “Ocean’s Eleven” was a remake of the Rat Pack classic of the same name, “The Italian Job” borrows a couple elements but never tries to clone the original.

In this version of “The Italian Job”, Mark Wahlberg plays Charlie Croker, a protégé to the infamous retiring thief master, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland). It’s John’s last heist and he hopes to bring in a haul worth $35 million dollars in gold.

All John wants is to hug his now grown daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron) and retire into the shadows. But all goes to hell when a vindictive and jealous member of the gang, Steve (Edward Norton), decides to double-cross the team.

John’s last mission ends in blood-shed and the team loses their 35 million dollar prize. Now it’s up to Charlie and the rest of his gang to take out Steve in one giant heist.

“The Italian Job” is a very subtle heavily encased heist film. There is a lot more talking and planning in this film then the actual action sequences. Because the film is laid out that way it makes sense to have assembled such a colorful cast.

In some ways the casting choices are great but the film also has some hang-ups. In the scenes with Edward Norton, you can definitely see his lack of enthusiasm with the role. There could have been so much more tension and poisoned-filled vengeance if Norton would have put more into the role.

Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham

The other casting hang-up is the romantic chemistry between Wahlberg and Theron. I really do like each actor a lot but I found it very hard to believe that there was anything more than a brother-sister or colleague kind of relationship.

Did I miss something?

The great casting choices actually are in the film’s supporting cast. The chemistry between Seth Green’s techno-whiz, Napster and Jason Statham’s Handsome Rob were pure magic. These two really are the hi-lights of the movie.

I really want to see more of both in the future. How about a Handsome Rob and Napster flick?

I really did enjoy the stunts and action sequences of the film. I especially enjoyed the new version of the Mini. To bad those cars weren’t in the “The Fast & the Furious”. “Italian Job” could have been in the same league as “The Fast & the Furious” if it would have relaxed a bit. I can just imagine what this film would have been like if it would have been revved up some.

(3 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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