ITALIAN JOB, THE (2003)
Charlie Corker (Mark Wahlberg) is taking over from veteran master thief John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) as they plan and execute John’s last gig: a US$37 million gold bullion heist in Venice, using the city’s waterways for a spectacular getaway. Their elation is short lived; they’re double crossed by clever team member Steve (Edward Norton), and ambushed on a deserted road, killing John and taking the gold. Charlie and the surviving team plan to get the remaining gold back from Steve’s fortress mansion in Los Angeles, with the help of John’s beautiful, professional safe-cracking daughter Stella (Charlize Theron), who acts as a consultant to security firms. Charlie hopes to convince her to help retrieve the gold to avenge her father and see the face of his killer. And the plan calls for some serious traffic control in LA so the gold-laden Minis can make their getaway. But Steve has other plans.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
F Gary Gray’s A Man Apart (starring Vin Diesel) opened in Australia just a couple of months ahead of this one, in June 2003, which showed his ability to handle action; The Italian Job shows he can also handle character and dialogue at the same time as the action. Working with a cast that relishes the atmos of the film’s hectic but clear story elements, Gray balances good humour with good tension as he revisit the basic elements (but not the characters, nor the plot nor the Turin setting) of The Italian Job of 1969. It’s not a remake of that film as much as making use some key elements. The first heist in Venice allows the film its title, and there is even a line of dialogue conceding tribute to the idea behind the escape to the earlier film. This work reminds me how successfully The Bourne Identity was re-adapted. It can be done. My trepidation evaporated in the first few minutes as the classy cast introduced themselves to us in the eternally, achingly beautiful Venice settings. Whether by the filmmakers’ choice (well done if so) or by nature’s choice, much of the Venice footage is under overcast skies, adding not only a sense of reality but a smidgin more tension and mood. After that, of course, we are in California where the sun always shines (through the haze). The script is clever and devious – with just a couple of implausibilities - but not so clever that we lose track, while the supporting gizmos and use of computer power to achieve the plot points is excellent. The Minis are given a solid workout in exciting chases, and there are enough of these above and under the ground to satisfy thrill seekers, while the gang itself provides a nice bunch of gangsters to root for. Not much by way of character development, but with these characters it wouldn’t be credible, really. They’re crims and that’s all there is to it. Oh, well yes, Stella (Charlize Theron) does make a choice that could be labelled ‘character development’ but it would be stretching things. The Italian Job turns out well, a fast and entertaining caper designed to give you a couple of fun hours.
Review by Louise Keller:
Now here’s a fresh and entertaining caper that is more of a homage than a remake. The Italian Job doesn’t profess to be anything but sheer, unadulterated good fun, and succeeds hands down to dazzle us with its fabulous locations, inventive schemes, diverse characters and stunts. In fact, humour is a big part of the film, and chances are that if you’re not sitting on the edge of your seat enthralled by the action, you will probably be having a chuckle. We first meet the team at work during the heist of a life-time in Venice. Let’s face it, isn’t Venice the most romantic location imaginable, from which to steal $35million in gold bullion? Romantic it may be, but the getaway is complicated and the logistics in shooting the speed boat chase through the narrow canals could not have been easy. But it’s an extraordinary sequence, which ends as celebratory bottles of Dom Perignon are clinked together high in the staggeringly beautiful Italian Alps, where white peaks extend as far as the eye can see and a solitary road snakes its way around the mountain tops. The plot has wisely been changed, and with F. Gary Gray at the helm (A Man Apart, The Negotiator) plus a dream cast that offers all the appeal that your senses could demand, this is a mix of the big steal, the twist and the payback. Of course this may well become the film to put the humble little mini back on the map, although there’s nothing humble about these hotted up metal cubes on four wheels that zoom up footpaths, down staircases, across train tracks and up and down the most unlikely obstructions. Although we only see three minis in the film – red, white and blue – in fact, there were 32 minis required for the many stunts in the sequence. And while creating the Turin traffic jam in the original 1969 film must have proven to be a highly planned exercise, today’s traffic chaos in Hollywood Boulevard was doubtlessly even more complicated. Mark Wahlberg’s Charlie Croker may lack Michael Caine’s impish charm, but holds the team together with quiet assurance, while Edward Norton oozes slippery duality as the heartless, greedy villain. The very beautiful Charlize Theron displays all her charms and wiles as the highly skilled safecracker, and the scene in which she pretends to be a cable technician in order to check out Steve Frezelli’s safe, is a crackerjack. Seth Green brings plenty of laughs as techno-head Napster, while Jason Statham has great presence as Handsome Rob. Plus there’s hip-hop artist Mos Def as Left-Ear and veteran Donald Sutherland in a welcome cameo. Their names may be funny, but it’s even funnier when we learn how they each acquired them. The Italian Job is simply a blast.
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ITALIAN JOB, THE (2003) (M)
CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Franky G. and Donald Sutherland
PRODUCER: Donald De Line
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray (based on the film written by Troy Kennedy Martin)
SCRIPT: Donna Powers & Wayne Powers
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister A.S.C.
EDITOR: Richard Francis-Bruce A.C.E.
MUSIC: John Powell
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Charles Wood
RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 21, 2003
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.