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The Italian Job

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Italian Job

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton
Director: F. Gary Gray
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 103 Minutes
Release Date: May 2003
Genres: Action, Thriller

*Also starring: Charlize Theron, Mos Def, Christina Cabot, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Donald Sutherland, Simon Rhee

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Director F. Gary Gray, who last underwhelmed us with A MAN APART, is back with a much better picture, THE ITALIAN JOB, a remake of the 1969 film which starred Michael Caine. Featuring a couple of cool capers, this well cast movie is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of entertainment. There may not be many "wow" moments in it, but the movie rarely flags and consistently delights.

The action starts in Venice, where a seasoned crook named John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) has gone to pull the classic "one last job." One of the best safe crackers in the business, John must have the skills in his genes since his daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron), makes her living as a legitimate safe opening technician back in L.A. Sutherland is completely at easy and at the top of his form as a thief who loves his job. Theron is quite good as well as a vulnerable woman who finds herself in some dangerous situations.

Although John used to run his gang, the responsibility to be the brains of the outfit has fallen to Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), a young guy with great looks. Wahlberg performs more competently than he did in THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, but he doesn't bring quite the confidence and charisma that his character demands.

The rest of the gang includes: Steve Frezelli (Edward Norton), Lyle (Seth Green), Handsome Rob (Jason Statham) and Left Ear (Mos Def). Their first job involves a safe with thirty-five million dollars in gold bars. This high tech heist is imaginative, surprising and -- like the rest of the movie -- a lot of fun. Their second big job, which takes most of the rest of the picture, is much more intricate and full of both action and twists. The stunt drivers earn their pay throughout the production.

In a movie with such photogenic stars, the biggest surprise is that the sexiest thing in the movie is the red Mini that Stella drives with great panache. Later, in a patriotic flurry, the script adds two more Minis so that we have red, white and blue Minis flying around city streets, into subway tunnels and even through water pipes. I would assume that the movie will be a financial success at the box office, but the real winner is the car. The movie is the world's best ad for BMW's new Mini Cooper. Dealerships should set up tables in the lobby and take orders. Most of the audience will probably want one after seeing THE ITALIAN JOB. I know I did.

THE ITALIAN JOB runs 1:42. It is rated PG-13 for language and violence and would be acceptable for kids around 9 and up.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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