This reviewer saw The Italian Job at an early critics screening. This movie is a slightly different remake of the classy 1969 film that starred Noel Coward, Michael Caine and Benny Hill, a laid-back view of an elaborate robbery. Today’s Italian Job is also a laid-back view of an elaborate robbery but stars Mark Wahlberg (The Truth About Charlie), Edward Norton (The Score), Clarize Theron (Trapped), Mos Def (Brown Sugar) Seth Green (Roundabout Guys), Jason Statham (The Transporter), Franky G, and the always classic, Donald Sutherland (The Art of War). As soon as you see three names pop up: Wahlberg, Norton and Sutherland, you know there will be a double-cross somewhere in the mix.
The Italian Job begins in Venice, Italy with the heist of gold bars worth millions. Each member of the gang is an expert at something. Jason is the driver, while Seth is a computer/electronics whiz; Sutherland is the leader, and Wahlberg the planner; Norton an inside man, and Mos Def knows explosives. Instead of busting into the safe, the gang drops the safe through two floors where it lands in a boat and the chase begins. Wahlberg thinks of everything and the heist is successful without a shot being fired. It is then that the double cross appears (although Norton telegraphs this event a mile away), and it is on a bridge over a lonely, snowy reservoir somewhere in Europe. Even this reviewer could have figured out a better escape route. Someone is killed and finding the gold and enacting revenge is what now motivates the gang–plus, there is a new partner, an expert safe-cracker named Stella (Theron), who happens to drive a small Mini, a fact, which will have most of America wanting one of these cars that resembles a toolbox on wheels.
The Italian Job actually is fun, though the audience can guess where it is going, it’s still nice to be along for the ride. Wahlberg, who played this type of character in The Big Hit (1997) is comfortable in the role. Theron, on the other hand, is all business, and has ice water in her veins. Norton also did a similar role in The Score and does his part as the bad guy with flair. Mos Def is the quiet crook, known as Half Ear, because he once tried to blow up a school bathroom. He likes to read books such as How To Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci. Def has his moments in the film, and it adds to the lighter air of a heist movie. Statham (Smiling Rob) with a killer smile gives the impression that he was born with a steering wheel in his hands. However, it is Seth Green (Lyle) as the electronics kid who steals the film. He claims he was the original “Napster” and that a friend stole the idea from him. This recurring statement has a hilarious moment when Lyle hacks into a city’s traffic control light network.
All of the above boil down to a light-hearted approach to crime. Scenery is wonderful and ranges from Venice to mountains to California. Even though there are serious risks, the guys have a purpose and work hard to achieve it. The thief who stole from thieves is also working to keep his loot safe, so who will win in the end? Excitement builds with a fast-paced car race through subway tunnels and the usual helicopter vs. car encounter. It wouldn’t be an action film without one. Also, what makes the film interesting are the side players such as Russian gangsters who accidentally become involved, or one of Wahlberg’s friends (a very large man) who supplies people with needed armament. Not to mention two dogs with character that could have been in the film more.
The Italian Job tells you that it pays to network because you never know who you will need at what time in your life. There are scenes designed to lead you down a short garden path but end up somewhere else, such as someone drilling into a safe and the audience thinking it is another robbery. The camera pulls back, and the audience sees it is a way to introduce Theron’s character. She is helping the police and is paid for her expertise. The film could have used more of this because all in all, the best way to describe The Italian Job is to say it is methodical. Just as Wahlberg’s character carefully plans a robbery down to the last detail, the film has the same feel to it. Point A still goes to Point B. You have–I want–I’m going to get. The end.