The Italian Job (2003)
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Review Date: May 29, 2003
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Wayne and Donna Powers
Producers: Donald De Line
Mark Wahlberg as Charlie
Charlize Theron as Stella
Edward Norton as Steve
A group of thieves rip off a stash of Venician gold only to have one of their own backstab them and take off with the loot. A year later, the remaining members of the crew find the a-hole living the highlife in Hollywood and decide to get their money back, one way or another. A cute blonde safe-cracker joins the gang and the job-- having nothing to do with hands-- is on.
A decent, sometimes pretty fun, caper flick that doesn't pretend to be anything more than what it is, which is an unoriginal remake not meant to surprise or delight, but entertain and engage, which it most certainly does. My biggest problem with this movie was its lead actor Mark Wahlberg who continues to prove that he is simply not "leading man" material with a morose, one-note, bored performance that didn't give me any reason to care, root or pay much attention to him. The part of a man leading a gang of crooks should be bestowed upon someone who is charismatic, interesting, or at the very least, charming-- qualities which Mr. Wahlberg simply does not possess. And it's not really that he's a "bad actor" as much as he is just plain bland. My two cents. Thankfully for us though, the rest of the cast is pretty sweet and if it wasn't Ed Norton (who was "forced" to do this movie by Paramount-contractual stuff) and his moustache providing for some delectable bad guy fun, it was Mos Def and Seth Green jabbering it up for humor. Props to Def, in particular, for really coming through with the laughs- the man has obvious talents in that arena (he was great in BROWN SUGAR as well). Having said that, the whole "Napster joke" with Green was definitely overplayed, but on the whole, he and the rest of his castmates were a nice mix. Of course, we can't forget about the very gorgeous and statuesque Charlize Theron, who doesn't only look great for the camera, but also drives up a storm and provides for actual emotion in a couple of scenes. Good stuff, girlfriend. Jason Statham also shows up as "Jason Statham" and I for one was happy to see him as that. Great man, great nickname and great biceps!

As for the story, well...I can't say that I was ever particularly blown away or bored by anything that it offered, although it did actually manage to surprise me with a scene about halfway through, everything else was pretty straightforward (especially if you've seen the lame give-away trailer), with a good pace and a number of set-up/action scenes spread throughout. Some of the stuff was just too clichéd though, like when one character pulled another one aside to tell him how much he loved someone a lot-- and then obviously got whacked soon thereafter. The film's final 20 minutes are when it really rocks though, as the sporty-colored Mini cars are taken through a very cool downtown chase, while not one police officer ever notices the fracas (there are a few such "suspension of disbelief" moments in the film, so if you have a problem with shit like that, this movie might piss you off a little). I also had a problem with some of the movie's cheesy dialogue and an extremely unnecessary epilogue during its end credits (I spit on whoever decided to put a couple of characters "together" at that point...boooo!), but overall, I enjoyed its storyline, liked most of its characters, appreciated many of its set-ups, planning sessions and actual heists, as well the directing, which was chipper, the score, which was a nice companion and the final half hour, which provided for the requisite number of action jolts expected of all summer flicks. Think HEIST - (great dialogue) + THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS - (charismatic lead) + OCEAN'S 11 - (A-list cast) + (cool Mini cars) = THE ITALIAN JOB.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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