An (Italian) Job Done Well

Action, suspense, surprises. If these are qualities you’re searching for in a summer blockbuster, you won’t be disappointed with director F. Gary Gray’s recently released remake of the 1969 film, The Italian Job. On land, water, and underground in subways, Gray raptures us with efficient use of that reliable suspense film technique: the chase.

The movie begins as a team of six thieves, led by John (Donald Sutherland) and his right hand man Charlie (Mark Wahlberg), pull a heist in scenic Venice, Italy. After getting away scott-free, the team is shocked to discover their partner Steve (Edward Norton) has betrayed them. Not only has he got away with the team’s strategically stolen gold, he also kills the team leader. Crushed that his mentor and father figure was murdered, Charlie vows retribution as he eventually learns through a source where Steve is hiding.

The betrayed original group now have a chance to get their revenge but not without a new partner. John’s non-criminal daughter, Stella, played by Charlize Theron, is an expert safe cracker who works for the police. After some convincing, she too decides she wants revenge. No longer about the money, taking down Steve is personnel, for Stella and the original team.

However, getting back at their once-friend Steve isn’t easy since he has tones of money for security and he’s a pretty damn good thief himself. The team’s attempts at outsmarting him don’t always go the way they plan, which makes for excellent twists and turns. You’ll be asking yourself “Great! What are they going to do now?”

What I really liked about The Italian Job was there was no dumb love story between Charlie and Stella woven into the middle of the movie. Instead the film focuses on what it’s about: suspense, action and intrigue.

Jason Statham plays Handsome Rob who is great with the ladies and even better at driving the Mini Coopers, which were specially built for the movie. San Francisco does not allow gasoline-powered vehicles in their subway system so electric-powered cars were assembled instead.

Comic relief in this film is added by Seth Green’s character Lyle, who plays a computer genius. His character claims he is the inventor of Napster but his idea was stolen while he was sleeping (hence Napster) by his roommate. Incidentally, real-life Napster inventor Shawn Fanning makes a cameo as Lyle’s roommate.

Rapper/Actor Mos Def rounds out an excellent cast as explosives expert Left Ear. He gets his name because he lost part of his hearing when he first started experimenting with explosives as a child.

I haven’t seen the original 1969 version of The Italian Job, but according to other reviewers who have seen both, the movies can be considered separate entities. If you look closely you’ll see the original star, Michael Cain, make a cameo appearance.
Unfortunately, if you’ve seen the previews for the Italian Job you probably already know how the end plays out, but don’t let that stop you from going, you’ll still end up on the edge of your seat.

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