The Italian Job should really be titled, The L.A. Job because that is where most of the action of this slick caper takes place. The only time we see the boot-shaped country is the first 20 minutes of the film, which sets up the plot and starts the film in motion. We meet a team of thieves, led by Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) who is going to crack a safe in the most clever, albeit unusual manner. His sidekicks include Lyle (Seth Green) a computer geek who claims to be the real inventor of Napster, explosives expert Left-ear (rapper Mos Def), wheelman Handsome Rob (Jason Statham: Snatch), and Steve (Ed Norton), Charlie's right hand man. Masterminding the plan is the crusty John (Donald Sutherland), who is both a veteran thief and father-figure to Charlie. After the team successfully heists the safe containing $35 million in gold bars, they go off to celebrate. However the festivities are cut short when Steve turns on his cohorts, kills John, and absconds with the gold, leaving the rest for dead in the Alps.
Cut to Philly, where we find John's progeny Stella (Charlize Theron), who unlike her father, puts her safecracking skills on the good side of the law, hard at work. She has accepted her father's death as a consequence of his lifestyle and has moved on, until she gets a call from Charlie. The group plans to exact revenge on Steve and steal the gold -- back. This will involve a risky and complicated plan, involving three highly modified Mini Coopers. While the plan to get the gold back is intricate, the story is fairly easy to track, despite the occasional twist and turns that occur.
My major problem with this movie was the acting by two of the principal characters, Mark Wahlberg and Edward Norton. Remake king Walhberg was wooden and overbearing in this role. He can't hold a candle to Michael Caine's character in the 1969 version of the film, and this part just calls to mind his other miserable remake, Planet of the Apes. Secondly, Norton was no better in this role as the villain, reportedly forced upon him by Paramount studio heads. It's obvious that Eddie simply did not want to do this movie. Describing him as wooden would be an understatement - Norton's effort was both unenthusiastic and listless. He seemed more annoyed than anything else, and that got annoying (along with that mustache he was sporting). If you want to see Norton do an effective job as a thief, check out The Score.
Then of course we have the sizzling Charlize Theron…whose role could have just as effectively been played by a male, not that she didn't do an adequate job. Her casting in this role was strictly for sex appeal, I mean why else would they have her honing her craft in her underwear? Still, she gives a persuasive performance. Props are also in order for Mos Def and Seth Green, who both do very well in their roles, although Green's part was a little overplayed.
Still, I have to say that the real stars of this film were the cars. During a couple moments I thought that I was watching a commercial for the Mini Cooper. Granted, they were featured in the original movie, but this time it just screamed 'product placement'. Even so, the action scenes involving these peppy little cars were enjoyable to watch, and was one of the redeeming qualities of the film, as was the well-choreographed boat chase through the canals of Venice.
The Italian Job moves along at a rapid clip, so you really don't suffer that long. If you like action films and comeuppance capers, you'll be pleased. Even if you don't, The Italian Job will relieve your boredom, and possibly make you want to buy a Mini.
Notes: Cameo by Napster creator Sean Fanning "steals" a scene.
Czarina's Caustic Comment or Captious Compliment: Not the best job by F. Gary Gray, but those Minis are damned cute.
The Czarina Job
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