The Italian Job

May 30, 2003
Director –
F. Gary Gray
Major Actors –
Mark Wahlberg …. Charlie Croker
Charlize Theron …. Stella Bridger
Donald Sutherland …. John Bridger
Jason Statham …. Handsome Rob
Seth Green …. Lyle (The Napster)
Mos Def …. Left Ear
Edward Norton …. Steve
IMDB InformationAnalysis –
Acting :
As a crime/thriller, The Italian Job was not overflowing with poinant moments of ennui. However, the members of the cast did manage to pull off a few memorable moments….except for Marky Mark, who glides through this movie without a lick of emotion. I don’t think the guy smiled until the last five minutes of the movie. Charlize Theron is also kind of a stick in the mud, but at least we get to see her smile once in a while. Her “following in her daddies footsteps” Stella is an atypical character, to be sure (she’s a locksmith, essentially), but other than saving the day by using The Force, she’s just sorta window dressing. As sometimes happens in these pictures, the background players are really the stars. Jason Statham has been in a few edgy films, his career starting with “Lock, Stock…”, and he plays the part of cool-headed thug very well. Seth Green is a funny guy. I wish he’d act in less crappy movies, because he’s got genuine comedic talent. His little nerd (a throwback to his role in Enemy of the State) was highly entertaining to this big nerd. (His constant claims that he invented Napster being for the most part amusing.) Mos Def, who I’d never heard of before (and, looking at his filmography, I’ve never seen before), played a low-key demolitions expert. He had some amusing physical humor, and had a strong presence on screen. Edward Norton’s antagonist, Stevie, was a consumate sleazebag. He was great. There wasn’t a moment of the film that I liked him. That’s Ed Norton for you. Oh yeah, Donald Sutherland was there too. I hear for 5 bucks he’ll act in your home movies now.

Writing :
The 1969 screenplay was reworked for this version of the film by Donna and Wayne Powers. Donna Powers wrote a little film called Deep Blue Sea. Hehehehe…ahem. This movie was much better than Deep Blue Sea, and generally didn’t allow you the chance to sit still long enough to be bored. Good action stuff, and a minimum of dialogue (which I appreciated).

F. Gary Gray’s two other best known films would be “The Negotiator” (with Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson), and “Friday”. I would say that Negotiator was a more interesting film from a directing standpoint, in that the small amount of space the movie was shot in made for more intriguing camera work. His hand was pretty steady, though, and he bopped us along an action movie track fairly well. He likes city establishing shots a bit much, though.

Sets, Costumes, Special FX and Music:
If there was a boring piece of the movie, it was this. The costumes and special FX were…there. There were some explosions, and a pan through an interstitial wall ala Panic Room, but other than that, this was a fairly FX free movie. The sets were usually location shoots, so they were mildly interesting in the way that real places are in movies. Most of the time, we were going by too quickly to get any real impressions of place, though. The only really interesting location was a manse in Venice, which featured a canal-side boat garage. The music was the only strong piece of the background. It was done by an ensemble crew, and although none of it really struck me, it did an effective job of maintaining mood in the background. All around, the crews did a competent job, there was just nothing particularly special about any of these pieces.

Movie Overall :
Part of me wants to dislike this movie for turning into a really big Mini Cooper commercial. Now I really like Bourne Identity, which also featured a Cooper, but the car in that movie was basically just the car that the protagonists used to get around. Italian Job made a point of showing us how shiny they are. On the other hand, they are pretty shiny. And they’re surprizingly zippy little cars. Product placement played a large role in this movie actually (Dell and Pepsi also featuring heavily), and reflecting on that made me realize what rubbed me the wrong way about this film. For the most part, this is a film about things, and not people. As I’m sure you already know from the Trailer, they’re going after gold bars which were stolen from them in a double-cross. Ostensibly, the movie is about revenge and having closure. Really, the movie is about the gold bars, the Mini Coopers, the Dell Laptop, the Pepsi Truck, the cool helicopter, the speedy boats, the big screen TV, the house in the Alps, the powerful stereo, and the fast car. Call me old fashioned, but I like movies about people. I can watch nerd porn for free on TechTV. All in all, it’s an okay movie to rent if you’re into high speed chases with some humor, but don’t come here looking for great character acting or an intricate plot.

Personal Rating
This movie is worth renting the first night it is available on VHS/DVD.