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
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
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