Fast and furious and funny too —
- The remake of a '69 caper movie beats the original, with a
relaxed, light feel and proper action-packed pace.
By Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times Staff
The film’s big chase scene, with BMW Minis, is ingenious.
helicopter shot picks up six men standing on a snowy mountaintop, presumably in
the Alps, celebrating the perfect heist of
$35 million in gold ingots that provides the jaw-dropping opening of the breezy
caper movie "The Italian Job." Each member of mastermind Mark Wahlberg's gang muses about what he's going to do with his
share of the loot except for daring "inside" man Edward Norton, and
that's because he's about to snatch all the loot for himself.
Even though the 1969 original "Italian Job" had Michael Caine in the title role, carrying out the plans of
imprisoned criminal mastermind Noel Coward (a role eliminated in the remake),
this new version has it all over the original. Writers Donna Powers and Wayne
Powers imaginatively rework Troy Kennedy Martin's screenplay for the original
film to create a fast and furious action-adventure. The film's comedy counts
for as much as the clever and risky ways in which Wahlberg
and company go after the nasty Norton, who has holed up in a Bel-Air mansion with a world-class security system.
The film's big plus is that its director, F. Gary Gray, takes a relaxed, light
touch with the proceedings while keeping it all moving briskly. The filmmakers
allow the gang members to emerge as very likable, distinctive personalities,
easy to root for as they make their moves against Norton's Steve, who comes
across like a Sean Penn-type bad guy at his surliest.
Wahlberg's low-key but very smart Charlie Croker has a colorful support team: a scene-stealing Seth
Green as comical computer whiz Lyle; Jason Statham as Handsome Rob, a muscular
Brit for whom all women are but putty in his hands; and explosives expert Left
Ear (Mos Def), who dreams of owning an Italian
palazzo with walls lined with first editions and closets filled with fancy
footwear. In the revenge gambit, Charlize Theron's Stella, a Philadelphia safecracking expert working on the
right side of the law, takes over for her father, a warm and avuncular Donald
Sutherland, Charlie's key advisor.
The filmmakers have taken some key motifs from the original film's ingenious
heist and chase and expanded upon them greatly and cleverly, with the film's
big pursuit sequence, moved from Turin to a gridlocked
Angeles, involving souped-up BMW Minis.
This chase is ingenious. "The Italian Job" is clearly one of the
summer's smarter, more sophisticated big-scale entertainments.
'The Italian Job'
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence and some language
Times guidelines: Violence and language standard for the genre
Mark Wahlberg ... Charlie Croker
Charlize Theron ... Stella
Edward Norton ... Steve
Seth Green ... Lyle
Donald Sutherland ... John Bridger
A Paramount Pictures presentation of a De Line Pictures production. Director F.
Gary Gray. Producer Donald De Line. Executive
producers James R. Dyer, Wendy Japhet, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner.
Screenplay by Donna Powers & Wayne Powers; based on the film written by
Troy Kennedy Martin. Cinematographer Wally Pfister. Editor Richard Francis-Bruce. Music John Powell. Costumes Mark Bridges.
Production designer Charles Wood. Art directors Doug Meerdink, Mark Zuelzke. Set
decorator Denise Pizzini. Running
time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.