on July 10, 2004
Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) has planned a gold heist with a group of professionals in Venice, Italy, that displays his sophisticated style without using violence. In order to accomplish the heist Croker has asked the old-timer John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) to help crack the safe in which the gold is located. They get safely away with a large amount of gold, however, Steve (Edward Norton) has decided to keep all the gold for himself and kill the rest of the group. Steve shoots John while the rest of the group escapes, but they decide on settling the score with Steve as they decide to take the gold back with the help of John's daughter Stella (Charlize Theron). The Italian Job is a fun and suspenseful action film with car chases and dubious schemes, which leaves the audience with a good cinematic experience.
"I trust everyone -- I just don't trust the devil inside them."
The above is what seasoned thief John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) says to his protégé Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) in this absorbing and fun heist movie (based loosely on the 1969 British movie of the same name).
Charlie heads a gang of thieves that help him with his jobs:
(1) Stella (Charlize Theron), a safecracker and daughter to John Bridger
(2) Steve (Edward Norton) who is not liked
(3) A computer geek who wants to be called "Napster" (Seth Green)
(4) "Handsome Rob" (Jason Statham), the gang's main wheelman
(5) "Left Ear" (Mos Def), explosives expert
For this particular job, Charlie acquires the talents of "Wrench" (Franky G) and the contacts of "Skinny Pete."
I also liked, what some say, are the real stars of this movie: the Austin mini-coopers. They are used at a key point in the heist.
The movie itself is, as I said, quite fun to watch especially if you like heist movies. I found that it held my attention with its action. (There was little CGI in this movie.)
The acting is quite good especially by Seth Green, Jason Statham, Edward Norton and Donald Sutherland. Mark Wahlberg is the straight man and mastermind in this movie.
Also, look for Spiderman and Ukranians in this movie.
The background music is also quite good. It adds to each scene.
Note that despite this movie's title, only a small part of it occurs in Italy (Venice). The majority of the action takes place in Los Angeles.
When the movie appears to end and the end credits start rolling, don't exit. This movie continues a bit into the end credits.
Finally, the DVD itself (Full Screen Edition released in 2003) has six extras. All of them are interesting.
In conclusion, if you like heist movies and escapism, then this is one movie you have to see!!
(2003; 1 hr 45 min excluding some end credits; full screen; 16 scenes)
<<Stephen PLETKO, London, Ontario, Canada>>
on July 9, 2004
Most of THE ITALIAN JOB is set in Los Angeles, but that's okay as the script coyly uses the heist in Italy as its model in LA. Mark Wahlberg stars as Charlie, a likeable thief (if there are such things?), who vows revenge after his compatriate, played with villainess glory by Edward Norton, undermines the Italian job, steals the gold and also kills Charlie's mentor and surrogate father, nicely played by Donald Sutherland. With that being the main plot, director F. Gary Gray wisely focuses on the heist and the chase scenes, minis in glory, are beautifully executed. Wahlberg has that stoic manliness we used to get from guys like Mitchum and Widmark; Charlize Theron as Sutherland's beautiful daughter, does nicely; Jason Statham, Seth Green and Mos Def are perfect members of Wahlberg's gang. The flashbacks where Wahlberg explains how they all got into crime are hilarious. Crisp editing, a marvelous score by John Powell and beautiful locales help add to the pluses of this well done thriller.
on June 2, 2004
A group of expert thieves led by mastermind Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his father figure mentor, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), successfully steals 35 million dollars worth of gold from a Venetian safe. But they are quickly double-crossed by one of their own partners in crime, who kills Bridger and forces the others to plummet into an icy river, leaving them for dead.
A year goes by and Croker contacts Stella (Charlize Theron), Bridger's daughter and a safe-cracking expert, and tells her that he has picked up the trail of the man who killed her father. He invites her to join his team and help reclaim their gold and avenge John Bridger's death.
Don't be discouraged from watching this movie by believing it to be a modernized remake of the 1969 classic. While there are definitely some connections between them (a plot-driving gold heist, car chases involving mini coopers and the movies' titles), this one is an excellently executed, Gary Gray film that shines on its own.
In a tight, solid plot it combines fast-paced action, thrilling suspense, clever and daring heists, great locales, state-of-the-art technology, engaging and witty characters, and a healthy dose of comedy skillfully added in all the right places. And the fact that it leaves out any unnecessary dramatic, life-altering issues makes it even more fun to watch.
The enjoyable mix of characters flawlessly portrayed by the actors, come alive through smart, snappy dialogues and believable characterizations. The choice of good, old-fashioned stunts that lend authenticity to the action over the not always effective CGI special effects, and the surprisingly pleasant musical score, give this movie the perfect finishing touch.
Sit back and enjoy the ride!
--Reviewed by M. E. Volmar
on May 12, 2004
THE ITALIAN JOB, most of which takes place in Los Angeles, begins with its best sequence of scenes. In this opening, a group of thieves are using every high-tech means available to blast their way into a gorgeous Venetian palazzo and pull off an enormous heist that will net them about $35 million in gold. The subsequent chase through the canals and rii of Venice is thrilling, elaborate and beautifully filmed. The problem for me was, the film was all downhill from there. This sequence (actually filmed in Venice), was so good, I don't think the film had any way to go but down. But, even though the opening scenes are the film's very best, the rest is good enough to provide an evening's entertainment and then some.
Like most heist films, THE ITALIAN JOB has an ensemble cast. The group is made up of Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), explosives expert, Left Ear (Mos Def) computer geek, Lyle (Seth Green), veteran safecracker, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), Handsome Ron (Jason Statham) and Steve (Edward Norton). One of this group betrays the others and the heist in Venice doesn't come off exactly as planned.
A year later, in Los Angeles, the group reassembles, joined by John's gorgeous daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron), to exact revenge, which of course involves another heist.
The first heist, in Venice, was terrific, but the second one, for me, was too elaborate and over-the-top (and I adore things that are over-the-top). It's impossible to take it seriously, but it could have been a lot of fun. I say "could have been," because I'm sure the makers of THE ITALIAN JOB wanted us to take it seriously. This is a much less lighthearted film than was the original, starring Michael Caine.
I think all of the actors do a great job and, despite the fact they're crooks, they're likable. (They aren't pulling the second heist because they want the loot, after all, they're doing it to avenge a betrayal.)
Although THE ITALIAN JOB is fast paced and has plot twists and surprises, unlike some caper movies it's still possible to follow the storyline without taking notes or having perfect recall, something I appreciated. There's also some humor in THE ITALIAN JOB, but don't expect a comedy crime caper. THE ITALIAN JOB is, for the most part, dark.
While THE ITALIAN JOB is entertaining and well made, it's lacking in believability and Wahlberg, while a very good actor, lacks the charm, class and polish to carry off a caper role like this one to perfection (he definitely needs to be more "Cary Grant" for this type of role). People who are looking for a remake of the original film won't find it here. This is a darker, more action-filled version, with less emphasis on comedy and character.
All in all, I found THE ITALIAN JOB great for an evening's entertainment, but it certainly wasn't memorable and it certainly wasn't a classic a la the wonderful HEIST.
on May 7, 2004
I've seen the "The Italian Job" remake a million times by now. Some people in other reviews have said that this was nothing like the original, but if you would have done some research then you would know that F. Gary Gray didn't intend on making it the same. It was supposed to be a movie in itself...and it is. I watch this movie constantly. It's just a good movie to watch if you're bored or there's nothing on TV. I do like this movie, so I watch it if I want to sometimes, not just because of the previously mentioned reasons to watch it. It's a good time and after you've seen it once you don't have to pay attention to every scene and you can still know what's going on.
One part I absolutely love in this movie is when Left Ear sees Skinny Pete for the first time. It's too funny. But there's something that I can't quite get over. I can't tell whether or not the red mini that Stella drives is her car or if it's one of the coopers that Charlie got for them to drive. Every time I watch this movie I try to look at Stella's liscense plate to see what state it's for. Also, there's a hole in the plot in the part where everyone meets up to meet Stella. I can never tell where they met...in LA or in Philadelphia (where Stella lives). Also they never say where the other guys are from, so you can't tell at all what the details are. I also wonder why they go to New Orleans at the end. Did anyone else notice that?
Overall though, I give this movie a good rating. I like it and it's just fun to watch occasionally...if you don't care that much about the details (the only reason I noticed all those holes and questions is because I've seen the movie so many times). Give this movie a try. You never know until you try!
on April 15, 2004
You know don't let the fact that Mark Wahlberg is the leading-man in this movie throw you off, this is a worthy remake of the 1969 classic which starred Michael Caine (even though in a lot of aspects its very different). The story is still somewhat the same though. In Venice, Italy, a team of expert thieves pulls a daring heist of 35 million dollars in bars of gold. One of the thieves betrays his companions and swipes the gold for himself. One year later, in Los Angeles, the surviving team members create a smart and devious plan to steal back the gold and get their revenge on the traitor
I was truly entertained with this movie because it kept on going the entire time, there was never really a break in the action and that is what I liked about it. The scene with the Mini Coopers has to be seen to be believed because it is truly something spectacular.
Jason Statham, Seth Green and Donald Sutherland are all extremely funny in their roles and the constant bickering going on between some of the characters is worth watching the movie alone, truly funny stuff. Whereas some of the other provide more comic relief Charlize Theron, Edward Norton and Wahlberg provide a more serious aspect.
All in all this a movie that will keep you entertained for the entire duration, it has humor, action and everything else you would expect from the sort of movie you simply watch to enjoy yourself, not to think too much. I can recommend this one and can almost assure you that you are going to enjoy it.
on March 12, 2004
1 star = abysmal; some movies need to be forgotten
2 star = poor; a total waste of time
3 star = good; worth the effort
4 star = very good; what a flick should be
5 star = fantastic; must own it and share it with others
STORY: You know the story from the trailer...a team of theives gets double-crossed by one of their own (Edward Norton) and they aim to get back at him
1) CHARACTERS - you don't get deep into any of the characters but that is not the point of this type of movie. Yet, there are little glimpses into each one that makes you like them well enough and even root for them
2) PLOT - no real surprises but the over heist concepts were cool and the end result was satisfying
3) ACTING - I love the casting in this movie. Seth Green is one of my favorite actors and he delivers some great lines in this movie.
4) HUMOR - this movie had me laughing out loud more than some comedies. This was more of a comic-action flickk, which made it fun to watch in between the adrenaline chase scenes
5) ACTION - good action scenes but not great. The opening chase scene in the Transporter is much better than the scenes in this movie
OVERALL: I had my reservations because I hadn't heard a lot of positive about the movie. When my wife rented this from NetFlix I sat down to watch it with her and was pleasantly surprised. This is a FUN movie...watch it.
on February 20, 2004
Look, this is a very solid and professionally produced motion picture, and if all you are seeking is a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours, this film will do as well as most. But the fact is, we really have seen it all before. In the case of this film, literally, being an inferior remake of the 1969 version starring Michael Caine (though, to be fair, the plots are quite different). There isn't anything truly wrong with the film. The chase scenes are expertly performed, the suspense is just right, the gimmicks engaging and interesting, and, for the most part, the cast highly entertaining.
So why did I feel a bit let down afterwards? Well, in part because of Mark Wahlberg. Three things kept running through my mind as I watched him. One was that he is absolutely terrible compared to Michael Caine's job playing Charlie Kroker. Caine is one of the great actors in recent decades in the movies, while Wahlberg is pretty much this year's flavor. A second thing was that the great Jason Statham, who plays Handsome Rob in the film, would have been an infinitely better Charlie Kroker than Wahlberg (maybe its the Cockney accent he has in common with Michael Caine). Finally, as I listened to Wahlberg flatly deliver one line after another in a dull monotone, it occurred to me that he is clearly one of the worst actors in the world. Either that or he is content to sleepwalk through a part. I ought to add that he was surprisingly good in THREE KINGS, though I haven't seen him in anything that was especially well done since.
The rest of the cast, thankfully, is much better, though no one is really given much of an opportunity to put their acting skills on display. Charlize Theron is one of the best actresses in the movies when given a role that draws out her skills (like MONSTER, which should net her an Oscar in a couple of days). She isn't just a pretty face. Jason Statham is fine in his rather undemanding role. I would love to see him in a really dark and bleak film. I am not sure how wide his range is, but I would like to find out. Edward Norton is a great actor, but his part, like most of the others, didn't call at all upon his considerable talents.
I did enjoy seeing Donald Sutherland in his brief but key role as John Bridger, the safe cracker who is also the father of Stella (Charlize Theron). Sutherland starred with Julie Christie in one of the most famous films ever set in Venice, Nicholas Roeg's 1973 DON'T LOOK BACK. I couldn't help think of that in the various shots that demonstrated that it really was Vienna.
By the way, in one scene where you can see Steve Frezelli's (Edward Norton's character) widescreen TV through an outside window, you can definitely see Michael Caine's image on it for a second or so.
In short, this is a slickly made film that didn't require much of the actors and doesn't demand much on the part of the viewer. If one watches it with minimal expectations, one might enjoy it.
on February 11, 2004
I purhcased "The Italian Job" under the mistaken assumption that the film was an intelligent, well constructed and entertaining heist remake. The reviews I read were consistently glowing so I bit, despite my nagging instinct that no movie FEATURING Mark Walberg could be any of the above. (I'll grant that Mark has appeared in some decent films, but none of them were ever made decent because of his acting contribution. His brother Donnie is a far superior actor and is grossly underrated for my money. Watch "Band of Brothers" and decide for yourself.)
My nagging instinct proved correct upon watching the film. Right from the opening scene I knew I was in trouble. The cliched and hackneyed banter between "Daddy" Sutherland and "Daughter" Theron across continents was horribly foisted, predictable and unconvincing. Upon the close of this scene, two things were obvious. 1. The criminal but lovable Daddy would die early. 2. The devoted and hopelessly straight daughter would be party to the same criminal activity her father was in order to avenge his death. And by the way, how does a woman who looks like Ms. Theron end up as a world renowned safe cracking consultant? Oh, I suppose as a child, she and Daddy Sutherland sat around the breakfast table discussing the finer points of cracking bank safes and how to bypass complex alarm systems. That's a rather big pill to swallow early on.
The initial boat heist that follows is even more ridiculous. It tries desperately to trick us into believing we are watching a sophisticated and intelligent story like Oceans 11 (which itself is only a 3.5/5 to 4/5 film), by inundating us with obnoxious techno music, slick 20 something clothing and hair, cheesy and totally implausible computer wizardry, and product branding that is rivaled only by the 007 series. But don't be fooled by the flash, as there truly is no substance here. Wahlberg's acting is abysmal - as if that actually had to be said. I really do believe that if that guy cut himself he'd bleed cardboard. Theron does the best she can with a juvenile script and a ridiculous character, but her efforts are ultimately futile. And shockingly, Ed Norton of all people totally mails in his villain performance. Perhaps that is the fatal flaw of the film. Most agree that the villain makes or breaks an action movie. The villain Norton plays is so exceedingly one-dimensional and frankly not all that smart, that the audience never really cares if the heisters get back at him or not. Sure, we don't particularly like Ed's character, but we don't hate him the way we should to make the machinations of the film compelling.
Finally, the execution of the entire heist leaves you feeling like you just ran through an obstacle course rather than an enthralling action film. You feel throughout the film as if the story is merely a mechanism to execute the plot points that are written on the page. When a movie reaches that point, nothing that happens at the end can save it.