out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
The Italian Job
Review by Harvey Karten
2½ stars out of 4
Have you noticed that movie-goers often want the crooks to
get away scot free with their loot? One can only imagine that
juries are likewise influenced by various factors. For example, if
you're as good looking as Charlize Theron (still the most
beautiful performer in Hollywood) and as blandly handsome as
Mark Wahlberg; if you have the rough, good looks of Jason
Statham; have a special cuteness that worms its way into your
funny bone like that of Mos Def and Seth Green; are as
avuncular as Donald Sutherland with his thick, gray beard,
charming smile and warm personality; you have a chance of
beating the rap. If you look as sinister as the mustachioed
Edward Norton in F. Gary Gray's new film, "The Italian Job,"
forget it. The crowd is going to applaud your downfall,
particularly if your penalty appears to be other than a swift
death. The characters chosen to fulfill Donna Powers and
Wayne Powers' screenplay for this restructuring of the 1969 film
of the same name by Peter Collinson are spot-on, though
Michael Caine and Noel Coward could conceivably be
considered the more sophisticated duo to be playing lead roles
thirty-four years ago.
"The Italian Job" works in several ways. There are
considerable intricacies in the building of a movie based on a
heist of gold bars which takes considerable planning, further
complicated by an unexpected double-cross by one gang
member who wants most of the $34 million for himself. There is
some originality in the chases, taking a trio of MINIs through a
crowded railroad station and speedboats that far exceed the 5
mph limit in Venice, Italy. We're made privy to the importance
of team playing, each character using his or her own special
talents to make the heist successful.
We in the audience could probably figure out what's needed to
load a safe full of $34 million in gold bars out of its palazzo
where it's guarded 24/7. You'd want a brilliant safecracker, and
you get it with Stella (Charlize Theron), who works for
companies that need her to test the newest security devices.
You'd want a computer hacker who could get into a city's traffic
controls to speed your vehicles on their way while causing other
traffic to back up behind red lights; you get that with Lyle (Seth
Green). Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) intricately plans every
step of the robbery behind the leadership of safecracker John
(Donald Sutherland), who is the father of the beautiful Stella.
Handsome Rob (Jason Statham) provides the driving skill and
the exotic British accent while Left-Ear (Mos Def), deafened in
one year by an explosion set years back in his school, knows
"The Italian Job" takes us from St. Marks Plaza in Venice to
the Austrian mountains, then to Philadelphia and L.A. as gang
members, thought by double-dealing Steve (Ed Norton) to be
dead, cannot rest easy after pulling off a job requiring split-
second timing. They must parlay their expertise into finding
Steve and recovering the gold bars that were taken from them.
If you're looking for plot holes, you'll find them easily enough.
For example, how did handsome Rob know that he could get a
sleep-over date with a policewoman (Gloria Fontenot), which
would enable him to steal her truck and make use of her
uniform? How did the gang know, as they sped with their MINIs
through a railroad station, that they would not hit pedestrians,
thereby causing us to lose sympathy with them and foil their
operation? All that comes with the conventions of caper
movies, allowing us to suspend disbelief long enough to enjoy
the twists of the plot, Ed Norton's skill at playing the heartless
villain, and some stunning scenery of Venice and Charlize.
Copyright © 2003 Harvey Karten
Buy movie posters!