Movie Review: The Italian Job
January 14, 2008

"The Italian Job" is a remake. I haven't seen the original, but I imagine it was fairly good if it inspired a remix. As for said remix, well, it's pretty good. Maybe in another 30 or 40 years, there will be another remake. Would I pay to see it? Probably not. Do I regret seeing the one I'm reviewing? No... but I'm not over the moon about it, either.

The way the film's basic plot works is this: some thieves steal some bars of gold in Italy, then there's a double-cross and most of them are left for dead. One year later, the survivors reunite to steal back that which was stolen from them... and to have their revenge on the side. So they plan a heist and then they execute.

Most of the movie covers that middle part, the planning of the actual heist. When you think about it, a movie about a bunch of people planning to do something exciting isn't particularly thrilling, but it works so far as it goes because there's some tremendous talent on-screen. Mark Wahlberg isn't my pick for actor of the year or anything, but he does a decent job here. Edward Norton plays an interesting character and does it with a lot of his usual charm, so that's interesting to watch. Charlize Theron is interesting to watch if you prefer the company of attractive females, and does a good job here. Seth Green is usually a pretty funny guy, and that was true here. Jason Statham also brings a lot to the table, and it's hard now to imagine anyone but Donald Sutherland in his role. Looking at that list, there's a lot of big names and I don't know how they all got pressed together in one movie. The film's budget obviously wasn't blown just on star power, either. Even the guys you wouldn't recognize from anything put in good performances. In fact, whoever did the casting for the remake deserves nothing but praise for a job well done. It's hard to imagine the script coming out any better with other actors.

Filming is also solid. There are some really nice action scenes and I only thought about the camera's excellent positioning once. The rest of the time, the movie just flowed and I forgot I was looking at events shot through a camera lens. Everything was positioned perfectly so that events flowed and I was able to see beautiful scenery and crazy car chases and so forth.

My problems with the movie all come back to that down time between the action sequences that bookend the film. This is a two-hour affair, and more than half of it is just witty dialogue and interesting plot twists that can't possibly hold up well to repeated viewings. When I see something like "Die Hard" or "The Transporter" or any number of other high-action movies, I look forward to different scenes and I can watch them repeatedly. With "The Italian Job," there was a lot of tension the first time through but now I know everything that happens so half my reason to watch is gone.

What that all means is that "The Italian Job" is perfect for a quick thrill if you decide to give it a rental--as my wife did--but it's not the sort of feature you'd want to have sitting on your home video library shelf. At least, not if you're like me.

6/10

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