After pulling off a gold bullion heist from a heavily guarded palazzo in Venice, Italy, Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his gang – inside man Steve (Edward Norton), computer whiz and original Napster creator Lyle (Seth Green), wheel (and ladies) man Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), explosives expert Left-Ear (Mos Def) and veteran safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) – think they are free and clear, when one of their own pulls a fast one and takes off with the gold, but not before bumping off John and leaving Charlie and the rest of the gang in the middle of nowhere.
A year later, Charlie has tracked down the traitor (and the $35 million in stolen gold) in California. With the help of John’s daughter Stella (Charlize Theron), a safecracker, and his re-assembled crew, Charlie plans to re-steal the gold.
The Italian Job, a big-budget Hollywood remake of the British 1969 caper starring Michael Caine (which I have yet to see so I can not make comparisons between the two), runs like a perfectly engineered machine – it’s nicely photographed, slickly edited and competently put together by director F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator). It’s a harmless, safe picture for the summer movie masses that, unfortunately, lacks a vital punch needed to make it fully work.
There isn’t a hint of surprise, energy or urgency to be found in this film’s logic defying, demographic-pleasing screenplay or in the much-touted chase or heist scenes. They’re full of sound and fury, but very little else. It’s like running down a hallway with a pair of safety scissors still in their original package.
With the exception of the bland Wahlberg, who needs to stay away from remakes altogether, the talented ensemble cast is what makes Job less of a chore to sit through. Theron certainly looks great and fares better than Wahlberg, even if it’s not by much. Norton, playing a variation on his character from the much better heist film, The Score, turns in a fine performance as Steve, the scumbag of the bunch. Statham, Green and Mos Def work together well as members of the crew, shooting one-liners off each other with ease (watch for Green’s hilarious imitation of Statham) while Sutherland coasts through his brief role as Charlie’s mentor.
If you’ve never seen a heist film before, or think that Vanilla is the greatest flavor of ice cream ever, then you’ll probably think this film is one accomplished Job. For everyone else, you can skip the film, or as I like to call it, Fisher Price Presents My First Heist Film, at the theater and wait for it to arrive on cable. Free cable, that is.