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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 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.

The DVD has a satisfying bunch of special features, giving context to how the film was made, and we get to see a few scenes from the original with Michael Caine. The 20 minute making of feature consists of interviews with all cast and crew, including some of the behind the scenes footage from Venice. There's a bit of back slapping, but it's well done and it's good to hear how people became involved in the project. Mark Wahlberg had just completed two remakes and initially was not enamoured of the idea of doing yet another remake. But when he received a call from F. Gary Gray, asking him to read the script, he immediately said 'I'm in!' Donald Sutherland, having come straight off the set of Cold Mountain where he plays Nicole Kidman's father to here play Charlize Theron's father, the actor quips 'God, If I could have changed the diapers of all these people, I'd be a happy man.'

The screenwriters talk about their involvement in a 5 minute feature, and in the 'Driving School', director F. Gary Gray explains that driving school was mandatory, so all the actors could be involved in the action. If it's action you're after, head for 'The Mighty Minis' segment which shows in split screen some of the manoeuvres and stunts with the minis. Theron's classic mini needed to be modified for her long legs, too! There's more about the minis in the featurette 'High Octane: Stunts from The Italian Job' There are also six deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer. Recommended.

Published January 29, 2004

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CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Franky G. and Donald Sutherland

DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray (based on the film written by Troy Kennedy Martin)

SCRIPT: Donna Powers & Wayne Powers

RUNNING TIME: 111 minutes

PRESENTATION: widescreen 16: 9, dolby digital English and French 5.1; English Dolby Surround Sound

SPECIAL FEATURES: Pedal to the Metal (the making of); putting the words on the page; The Italian Job driving school; The mighty minis of the Italian Job; High octane stunts from The Italian Job; 6 deleted scenes; trailer


DVD RELEASE: January 29, 2004

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