Although Mark Wahlberg is no Michael Caine, and the revised screenplay may lack some of the charm of the original, F. Gary Gray’s interpretation of “The Italian Job” is a stylishly virile action flick that is, if nothing more, very entertaining.
Wahlberg headlines the impressive cast as Charlie Croker, thief extraordinaire and heir apparent to John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), one of the world’s foremost safecrackers – who uses not tools, but his own touch, to crack vaults – and leader of a world-class team of thieves including: Steve Frezelli – inside man (Edward Norton), Lyle – computer expert (Seth Green), Handsome Rob – getaway driver (Jason Statham), and Left Ear – demolitions expert (Mos Def).
The legendary Bridger has vowed to end his career of crime after one final heist: $35 million of Venetian gold bullion. Half of his days were spent behind bars, and he has promised his daughter, Stella, a professional lock and safe technician, that he will finally devote himself to her rather than to thievery.
The crew assembles, operating under a plan conceived entirely by Charlie, and carries out the operation flawlessly. John’s career is over, and Charlie has inherited the position of the man whom he thought of as a father; however, as the getaway proceeds, several trucks of armed men halt the team’s progress.
Steve, apparently, has plans of his own for the gold and for his crew members. He shoots and kills John and attempts to kill the others, as their truck drives into arctic waters. They survive luckily and, after convincing Stella to join them, make their goal stopping Steve and reclaiming their gold.
“The Italian Job” utilizes its dynamic action so well that it needn’t rely on lower modes of appeal like cheap sex or gratuitous violence. It operates with a style similar to Guy Ritchie’s works and maintains intensity throughout.
The believability and comic appeal of the characters were correlated with the lighthearted mood. The screenplay itself wasn’t great, but small nuances like the introductory vignettes about each of the characters and the humorous goings on along the way made “Job” much more entertaining than most high-tech heist flicks. Seth Green’s character being the real inventor of Napster, for example, is just as memorable, if not more, than the testosterone-loaded Mini Cooper chase scenes that would have solely been the backbone of most movies like this.
Because it doesn’t take itself too seriously and establishes an adrenaline-packed pace along with a very jovial mood, “The Italian Job” distinguishes itself in a genre often bogged down by films that fail to do just that.
Rating: 4 stars.