Saturday, June 1, 2013

Review: "The Italian Job" Remake Quite Slick

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 174 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Italian Job (2003)
Running time: 111 minutes (1 hour, 51 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for violence and some language
DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray
WRITERS: Donna Powers and Wayne Powers (based on the 1969 screenplay by Troy Kennedy-Martin)
PRODUCER: Donald De Line
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Wally Pfister (D.o.P.)
EDITORS: Richard Francis-Bruce and Christopher Rouse
COMPOSER: John Powell
Black Reel Award winner

ACTION/CRIME with elements of a thriller

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def, Franky G, Gawtti, and Shawn Fanning

The subject of this movie review is The Italian Job, a 2003 heist film from director F. Gary Gray. It is a remake of the 1969 film, The Italian Job, which starred Michael Caine and was directed by Peter Collinson.

The current version is quite entertaining, but a bit on the sedate side. Perhaps, the filmmakers mistook a low-key approach and a low wattage use of pyrotechnics as being cerebral. It’s not necessarily slow, but TIJ is an action movie meant for the kind of people who prefer action crime thrillers like Out of Sight and Ronin. Because I really liked those two films, I heartily recommend this one.

Career thief John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) and his protégé Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) plan a successful heist of $35 million in gold in Venice, Italy. One of their crew, the slick and violent Steve (Edward Norton), however betrays them, kills Bridger, and steals the gold. Croker tracks Steve to Los Angeles where he’s living it up. Seeking revenge and the return of the gold, he convinces Bridger’s daughter Stella (Charlize Theron), a legitimate, professional safe cracker, to join him and his crew on a mission against Steve. The team plans to pull of the heist of their lives by creating L.A. largest traffic jam ever.

Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set it Off) might not stand head and shoulders above the current large group of technically talented film helmsman, but he has found his niche by producing entertaining and occasionally masterful crime thrillers. As laid back as The Italian Job seems, Gray gives each scene some special twist or essence that kept me watching. I was never bored, and I really enjoyed the film. Maybe Gray playing down loud explosions and kinetic editing is a good thing. He can certainly direct excellent helicopter/car chases, and he makes good use of a diverse cast of character actors, a pretty lead actress, and a solid leading man in Mark Wahlberg.

6 of 10

2004 Black Reel Awards: 1 win: “Film: Best Director” (F. Gary Gray); 2 nominations: “Best Film” (Donald De Line) and “Film: Best Supporting Actor” (Mos Def)

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