The Italian Job: Heist, Heist, Baby!
Rob Levy
6/10/2003 12:27:04 PM

Heist films are making a huge comeback these days, with a big trend to revamp the older heist films. From Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Oceans Eleven, and The Heist, to the dodgy remake of Get Carter, movie goers love heist films. The latest fare in this arena is The Italian Job, a long-forgotten redux of the 1969 British Michael Caine film.

The Italian Job bears no similarities to its predecessor beyond the use on MINIs and the perennial backstabbing, thuggery, car chases and looting, however.

Essentially, Director F. Gary Gray (A Man Apart, Friday) follows the genre’s blueprint. A simple job goes awry because of treachery. Plotted revenge and diabolical thievery ensues. Car chases and explosions happen, the law is eschewed and people end happy, rich, retired and in love. However he accompanies the typical with witty dialogue, jumpy camera work and lots of speed.

The Italian Job begins with a bullion heist in Venice. Charlie Croker(Mark Wahlberg) leads a team of efficient thieves. His crew consists of speed freak Handsome Bob (Jason Statham), dog-fearing explosive expert Left Ear(Mos Def), Hacker Lyle (Seth Green) and the insider, Steve (Edward Norton). His mentor, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) comes along for the ride to get one more final big score.

Then, when one of the crew deserts the rest and keeps the score for himself, Croker and his posse are hell-bent on revenge. Enter Charlize Theron as Stella, a bolt technician who also wants a piece of the action. Stella gets her groove back by hooking up with Charlie's crew.

What ensues is an intriguing game of cat and mouse culminating in an amazing chase scene above and below Los Angeles. The compactness and relative ease of the MINI COOPER comes into play here, as these scenes really do rework the way car scenes are mapped out, executed and filmed. The scenes in the LA underground are also great fun and heart-stopping exciting.

Gray uses some fast and crafty camera work to film all of this. It is a flawless array of dazzling speed, breakneck action and artful effects.

The acting is top notch. Wahlberg and Theron have a quiet chemistry that really works. Wahlberg's Charlie is likable, calm, and self assured. He quietly brings poise to this role. Ed Norton is awesome once more. He's sleazy and dark and harsh while still being calculating and careful. He brings a sense of moral decay to the film. Seth Green and Jason Statham humor to the mix.

This a fast moving, spark-infused movie. It is well paced, well-timed and the acting is top notch. Every good heist film needs a tight ensemble cast and this film does it. Norton and Wahlbergh work splendidly together and with the surrounding cast. There is a lot here for everyone. Gray has assembled one that clicks and appears believable. Anyone who wants a few hours of escapist fun or a smart intelligent and crafted film should see The Italian Job.


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