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The Italian Job
2003 - PG-13 - 104 Mins.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Producer: Donald De Line
Written By: Donna Powers, Wayne Powers, Troy Kennedy-Martin
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Seth Green
Review by: David Trier
   
If it maintains your interest from beginning to end and leaves you with at least a small smile on your face, then it’s above average. So while The Italian Job may not win any awards for convincing emotional impact, it succeeds as a moderately enjoyable summer heist flick.

Old man safe-cracking thief John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) has been called out of forced retirement for one last job stealing gold in Venice. With his buddy Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his crew Macho Rugged Guy (Jason Statham), Techno Wiz Dell Intern (Seth Green) and Slightly Handicapped Black Guy (Mos Def), no one could foresee that Greasy Mustache Guy (Edward Norton) would betray them and leave them for dead. But he only succeeds in killing John, so when the rest of the gang finds where he’s been hiding… uh, in a remote desert city called LOS ANGELES, revenge can be sweet. But who will crack the safe and help them get the gold (they don’t deserve back) now that John is gone? Perhaps John’s blonde bombshell daughter Stella (Charlize Theron) can lend a hand.

Heist films are always at a disadvantage when they meet a critique from me because they will always be about thieves as heroes. The Italian Job does an excellent job making likeable, watchable characters, but they’re still all thieves. In other words, they’re all people that took things that weren’t theirs so they could be rich instead of work. And this is a movie about them trying to get the things that weren’t theirs back from the guy who took it from them, when it wasn’t his either. And so on and so forth. Some effort is made to promote the idea that they steal without guns, but when they start causing traffic accidents in Los Angeles and blowing up parts of the street, the point is a little moot.

The team boasts genuinely enjoyable performances from a pleasantly comic Mos Def, a tough guy role that seems tailor-made for Jason Statham and a computer dork that’s a charmingly goofy and less annoying Seth Green than one might expect. Charlize Theron’s performance is only diminished by the unlikelihood that someone that hot would crack safes for a living. Mark Wahlberg does an acceptable but forgettable job in a role which is written pretty blandly. Edward Norton is unable to conceal his distaste for the project, making sure everyone knows he did it to fulfill contractual obligations. This might be another nail in the career coffin his last few films have been constructing.

But while you may find yourself asking “Where are the cops?” throughout this movie’s many chase scenes, you have to admit director F. Gary Gray does an excellent job executing the action sequences. There’s some great driving through tunnels, helicopter work, and more than one explosion that totally pays off. There’s no mystery as to the outcome of the story, with quite a bit of forced foreshadowing, and this results in a rather tepid ending. And the romantic angle of the film seems more inevitable than touching.

But all around, The Italian Job is far from boring, with jokes that don’t suck too hard, characters we like despite them being THIEVES and moments that are fun with things that go boom.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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