“The Italian Job” is a heist film, and there have been some good ones in recent years: “The Score,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Entrapment.”
The best heist films appeal to audiences not so much through their action—though that’s always a draw—but through their teamwork.
“The Italian Job,” a remake of the 1969 film starring Michael Caine, has both, and it’s a fun picture from director F. Gary Gray (“The Negotiator”).
This remake keeps raising tension and stakes in a way most films find incredibly difficult. Whereas many pictures flag at the end, “The Italian Job” keeps picking up the pace.
The story is simple: A gang of thieves heists gold bullion from a palazzo in Venice. But one of the thieves is (wonder of wonders) dishonest. He steals the gold from his buddies, who must then track him down to retake their loot.
The picture has a global feel, as it starts in Venice—with a fun boat chase through the canals—then moves to Philadelphia and on to Los Angeles, where most of the action occurs.
The assembled team is a good one, and each member knows his or her place. There’s the mastermind (Mark Wahlberg), the workhorse (Edward Norton), the safecracker (Charlize Theron), the computer wiz (Seth Green), the ladies’ man (Jason Statham) and the demolitions expert (Mos Def).
Perhaps the real star of the movie, however, is the MINI, the North American Car of the Year for 2003. The tiny vehicle plays a prominent role in the final heist sequence. If audiences haven’t yet noticed MINIs on the byways and highways, they certainly will after seeing “The Italian Job.”
The MINIs drive down stairs, across Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, through Los Angeles’ metro system and just about anywhere they please.
The film is also interesting for the way it differentiates the bad-bad guys from simply the bad guys. That is, bad-bad guys use weapons. Bad guys don’t; they just drive cars recklessly.
“The Italian Job” offers fantastic chase sequences, humor and a story that’s easy to follow.
For a heist film, it definitely gets the job done.
Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and some language
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Donna Powers and Wayne Powers
Cast: Charlie Croker: Mark Wahlberg; Stella Bridger: Charlize Theron; Steve Frezelli: Edward Norton; Lyle: Seth Green; Handsome Rob: Jason Statham; Left Ear: Mos Def; John Bridger: Donald Sutherland.