he only real mark of a successful Heist Film is rather
there are two ingenious robberies to savor. If there are, then all is forgiven.
"The Italian Job", a not-really-a-remake of the Michael Caine original
of the same name, gives the audience one and a half ingenious robberies. It's
enough, mostly because one suspects that the film doesn't have anymore to give,
and that its one and a half is already a stretch. Actually, the screenplay by
Donna and Wayne Powers shouldn't have lasted almost two hours; ninety minutes of
"The Italian Job" is more than enough, and everything else is pushing
Mark Wahlberg stars as Charlie Croker, the newly crowned
head of a tight-knit group of thieves who, as the film opens, are pulling off
the theft of $30-plus million dollars worth of gold bars from an Italian
apartment. Of the group, there is Donald Sutherland as the retiring thief, who
is passing the torch to Charlie; Handsome Rob (Jason Statham, "The
Transporter"), the getaway man; Lyle (Seth Green), the electronics whiz
(which means he spends most of his time tapping randomly on a computer); Left
Ear (Mos Def), the explosives expert with an aversion to dogs; and finally,
sleazebag Steve (Edward Norton), who quickly betrays the group, kills
Sutherland, and escapes with the gold.
It takes a year before Charlie can re-locate Steve again.
With an eye toward revenge, Charlie recruits Sutherland's daughter, Stella
(Charlize Theron), who is also a safecracker. Their plan is to steal back the
gold that Steve stole from them. And as it often happens in Heist Films, we see
the recruiting stage, the planning stage, the re-enactment stage, and finally,
just before the actual heist occurs, a last-minute hitch arrives to
hinder things. Which is why the only mark of a successful Heist Film is its
ability to give the audience at least two ingenious robberies.
"The Italian Job" opens well, with the titular
Italian job, but it spends the next hour and a half not doing very much. There
is an insinuation of romance between Charlie and Stella, but thankfully the
script never pushes it. There are some knowing glances between the two main
characters, but that's all. Actually, the film is very well balanced between all
the different characters, and soon even Charlie starts drifting off into the
Which leads me to this thought: I am somewhat perplexed by
the continued stardom of Mark Wahlberg ("Planet
of the Apes"), who looks so out of place here. No personal offense is
meant to Wahlberg, but he just doesn't have the face for a master
criminal. He has the look of a young tough who would rather beat you with a
crowbar than come up with a plan to rob you. Any other actor would have done a
better job, but since the film isn't really a star vehicle for him, I guess it
doesn't really matter.
As the villain of the piece, the only thing noteworthy
about Edward Norton's performance is his peculiar mustache, which is really
unseemly. Norton has always struggled to overcome his baby face, and if anyone
can benefit from plastic surgery, it has to be this man. Norton is definitely
talented, but there are only so many characters someone with that face can play.
Although a scene where Norton is forced to kill a man clearly reminds people
that he's a talented individual.
"The Italian Job" is not especially entertaining,
but it's smart in that it saves its biggest moments for the final 30 minutes, as
Charlie and company steal from Steve during a Los Angeles traffic jam. Audiences
will forget that they had just sat through about an hour and a half of mostly
nothing until the final heist. "Job" is mostly superfluous in that it
doesn't transcend the genre and there's nothing particularly overwhelming about
it. It's saved by a frenzied final 30 minutes and some beautiful location work
in the beginning. Also, a beautiful leading lady in Charlize Theron doesn't