Sometimes, and only sometimes a remake to a classic film can be tricky. Usually they are made because of a demand by fans or a director loved the original so much that he or she wants to tell their own version of the story. If the remake is bad, nothing changes in the world, we still have the original in all its glory to watch and rewatch. If the remake is a success, then, well everybody wins. The studio looks intelligent for reviving a project while reaping the benefits of that success.
Paramount Pictures made The Italian Job a priority to be remade. Screenwriters Donna and Wayne Powers took two years and 18 drafts to get to the final version which would be shot on film. This remake was meant to be made regardless of how long the screenwriters took to polish each scene. Add in F. Gary Gray (Friday) to direct only added to the potential success this remake is set up for.
In Venice Italy, a team of thieves are working a job to steal $35 million worth of gold bullion. The plan is perfectly mapped out as shown in the opening credits to an excellent piece of music behind it. John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) promised his daughter Stella (Charlize Theron) his heist days were long past him, but he was doing one last job – just one more. The team assembled consisted of Charlie Crocker (Mark Wahlberg), Left Ear (Mos Def), Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), Lyle or ‘Napster’ (Seth Green) and Steve (Edward Norton). The team gets double crossed by Steve and one of the members is fatally shot.
A year passes and Charlie learns that Steve, the betrayer, now lives in the City of Angeles. Stella is reluctant to join the team but eventually does. Her only motivation is to get revenge of the man that killed her father. The rest of the team, well they want their money back. The second plan (and first attempt) to steal their money back isn’t as flawless as before since they are dealing with someone who knows the group. Believed dead, this is Stella’s chance to shine as she is meant to stand Steve up on date, he is persistent to get. The plan is thwarted by a neighbor throwing a party and plan B comes into place. Steve learns that no one else died in the mountains and the crew devise a plan based on Steve’s irrationalities. The teams successfully steal back the money ($27 million) with a little help thanks to Steve’s paranoia.
“That’s Lyle. He’s my computer genius. You know he’s who really invented Napster? At least that’s how Lyle tells it. Said Shawn Fanning was his roommate in college and stole his idea.”
With a star studded cast and a derivative work to plan off of, The Italian Job remake is a fun heist movie that is way better than it should be. The cast from top to bottom is charismatic and their chemistry together feels fresh and new. The acting all around is decently good for this kind of movie. We won’t see any Oscar type performances and that’s ok, each actor brought their character to life. For what this film is, the action is sequenced well as the stars of the film Mark, Jason and Charlize each did their own driving stunts making the film feel authentic.
Only Edward Norton, who was contractually obligated by Paramount to be in this picture, feels off. Its noticeable how little effort he puts into his role as the villain. It’s like Ed is the one person who doesn’t want to go to a party, but the rest of his friend group does, and they drag him there while he holds on for dear life. His dialogue is cheesy and cringy but that isn’t always the actor’s fault. He comes off pretentious and cocky when Stella infiltrates his mansion – that type of dialogue wouldn’t work in today’s climate.
The comedic timing between the cast is spot on and necessary to lighten the tone even more. Seth Green is the one that brings the most laughs consistently with his Napster story that one believes but they still entertain the fact. The father/son relationship between John and Charlie could have been explored more thoroughly to drive home that dramatic effect but its efficient enough to get the point across for Charlie’s motivations.
Like any action film, the stunts are incredibly important to the film. It also helps that the actors and actresses are willing to do their own stunts. Granted, it’s driving a Mini Cooper through the Los Angeles aqueduct but still its pulse pounding and shot excellently. The plot is pretty straightforward, but it doesn’t take away from the execution of the film by Gray. He does a great job at laying all the card out on the table while having fun the entire ride.
“I want to see the look on that man’s face when his gold is gone. He took my father from me, I’m taking this. “
It’s pretty evident of some inspiration behind the dinner scene when the rest of the team revel’s themselves to be alive. The famous scene from “Heat” when De Niro and Pacino meet for the first time can be felt between Charlie and Steve with the over the shoulder shots between the two thieves. One star that wasn’t mentioned above is the Mini Cooper – it’s symbolic to this film and pays homage to the original with added flair.
Overall, The Italian Job is a good remake of the original 1969 film. It’s fun, witty, has some great stunt work and relationship building and charisma by the cast. It’s a successful remake in that we can celebrate its existence while still having the original as a favorite, if we so choose. The 2000’s are a time where we are fed a bunch of different heist films and this one stands tall amongst the crowd. If I were to rate The Italian Job, I’d rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen The Italian Job and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
The Italian Job is directed by F. Gary Gray is Rated PG-13 and has an 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Italian Job was released on May 30, 2003 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes. The Italian Job can be bought by online retailers such as iTunes, Google, Amazon and Vudu.
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