Note: I have not seen the original version of The Italian Job (the film is relatively obscure on this side of the pond), a situation I will try to rectify shortly.
The Italian Job – 2003
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Written by Donna Powers & Wayne Powers
After a group of thieves (including one of my favorite clichés of all time, the guy-coming-out-of-retirement-for-his-last-big-score) pull off a major job stealing a safe full of gold from a house in Venice, they find themselves double-crossed in the Swiss Alps and left for dead. One year later, the remnants of the team come back together in order to steal the gold back and extract revenge on those who betrayed them.
Let’s break the cast down:
Donald Sutherland – Has this guy played any character other than the “wizened old sage” archetype in the last 15 years? Geez, talk about typecasting. (Wait, he was a dirty old man in Space Cowboys. OK, I’ll give him that.)
Mark Wahlberg – Is there a more boring and uncharismatic actor working today than Marky Mark? He can’t sell a line to save his soul. This guy can’t be our hero! The only thing I have ever liked him in is Boogie Nights, and that was because (much like Keanu Reeves and Ashton Kutcher) he is able to play a confused moron so well. Of course, in that case the question must be asked: is he really acting?
Charlize Theron - I wouldn’t mind having sex with her, so no problems here. If you think she is in this movie for any other reason than a little T&A, you are sorely mistaken. Does she cry in everything she’s in? Every movie I have seen with her includes one scene where she is crying and the camera lingers on her red and puffy face. Do we want to see that?
Edward Norton – I love Norton, but he isn’t in this movie very much to begin with, and when he is on screen it really feels like he is phoning it in. This makes sense, as Norton didn’t want to be in the movie in the first place and only appears because Paramount Pictures threatened to sue him under the terms of an old contract. It turns out that under the terms of his contract for Primal Fear, Norton had to appear in two more movies produced by Paramount. After years of legal wrangling, he got it down to one extra movie, but after the sides couldn’t agree on a film, Paramount essentially told him that he was going to do The Italian Job or they were going to take his ass to court. And so here he is.
Seth Green, Mos Def, and Jason Statham - Ahhhh…now I think the key to any ensemble cast is those secondary characters, the ones that are around to provide idiosyncrasies and comic relief, and not burdened with advancing the plot. These three are a most excellent combination and work great with what they are given. Mos Def is a half-deaf explosives expert and Statham is the team’s driver Handsome Rob, who also uses his abilities with the ladies to help out on the job. Seth Green works especially well as the resident guy in the van computer geek, although the running joke about him being the one who really invented Napster starts off funny, they eventually just run it into the ground.
From what I can glean from the plot of the original, the only things the two versions have in common is shared names between two characters and the climax involves causing a traffic jam and using three Mini Coopers as the getaway cars. stupot says Note that the "mini coopers" are not the same car as used in the old film (The old film was Real Mini Coopers, the new one uses BMW MINI Coopers(TM)). These, too, simply share a name.
This film is just yet another paint by numbers summer offering. There is really nothing terribly interesting or original being done here. I love heist movies, and even the most mediocre ones (The Score) are still pretty damn fun for me. But this movie (other than the Green, Def, Statham trio) just felt so bland. Admittedly, the car chases were pretty cool, especially since the Minis look so unusual and they are able to scoot in and out of traffic. I really liked that the final chase was between a Mini and a lumbering SUV.
- Yes, that really is Shawn Fanning playing himself
- In spite of the declaration that everything's better with vocoders, the film has a cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” using the infernal devices and it just blows.
- There is a very obvious overdub of “freaking” when an actor clearly originally said “fucking.” I don’t understand why this change was made, considering that there were no other instances of “fuck” in the movie, meaning that this one could have been kept and the film would still have been under the “you can only say fuck once” limit that comes with a PG-13 rating.
- The trailer completely gives away who the double-crosser is and all of the major action money shots in the movie. Avoid it if you want to go in fresh. I really hate this recent trend of blowing the plot in the advertising. Can't the studios just decide to make everything from the last half-hour of the film off-limits?
- I was surrounded by the biggest group of talking morons I have ever had the displeasure of hearing in a theatre. It's not just that they were talking, but it was also some of the stupidest shit I have ever heard. What is the proper punishment for these people? Discuss.
Here there be spoilers!
The ending fucking sucked. Just when it looks like there is going to be a final standoff between the two main characters, there is a little Deus ex Russian mafia (yeah, the Russian mafia. Remember that half-developed little subplot?) that wraps everything up in a nice little package. What a cop-out!! It also had the super-happy ending. Couldn’t they think of anything better?