F. Gary Gray
Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland, Seth Green, Mos Def
Troy Kennedy-Martin (1969 screenplay), Donna Powers, Wayne Powers
Get In. Get Out. Get Even.
The plan was flawless. The execution was perfect. Charlie Croker pulled off the crime of a lifetime. The one thing that he didn't plan on was being double-crossed. Now, he wants more than the job's payoff ... he wants payback.
Mark Wahlberg is electrifying as Croker in this "fast and furious action-adventure." Along with a drop-dead gorgeous safecracker (Charlize Theron), Croker and his team take off to re-steal the loot and end up in a pulse-pounding, pedal-to-the-metal chase that careens up, down and below the streets of Los Angeles.
$19.457 million on 2633 screens.
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 110 min.
Release Date: 10/7/2003
• ďPedal to the Metal: The Making of The Italian JobĒ Documentary
• ďPutting the Words to the Page for The Italian JobĒ Featurette
• ďThe Italian Job - Driving SchoolĒ Featurette
• ďThe Might Minis of The Italian Job Featurette
• ďHigh Octane: Stunts from The Italian JobĒ Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.
The Italian Job: Special Collector's Edition (2003)
Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 9, 2003)
When I first heard about the 2003 remake of The Italian Job, I thought it smelled like a probable dud. I canít really say why, but it just felt like one of those faceless summer movies that come and go without much fanfare. In a season packed with high profile releases such as The Matrix Reloaded, X-Men 2 and The Hulk, I didnít think Italian would make any form of a dent.
Although the movie didnít earn as much money as any of those films I just cited, it definitely didnít flop. Indeed, in some ways, it seems like more of a success than those flicks, as sheer dollars earned doesnít always represent the best way to compute a movieís popularity. All three of the flicks cited struck quickly at the box office but faded rapidly and didnít maintain much long-term appeal. Italian, on the other hand, turned into a sleeper, as it started slow and kept chugging away for weeks and weeks until it finally wound up with a more than respectable $105 million gross.
Italian immediately introduces Stella Bridger (Charlize Theron), the daughter of paroled ex-con John Bridger (Donald Sutherland). Heís in Venice to run one last job. Along with him we meet criminal mastermind Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and the gang involved: premier driver Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), demolition and explosives expert Left Ear (Mos Def), computer hacker Lyle (Seth Green), and Steve (Edward Norton). They steal a safe, crack it underwater, and lift the $35 million in gold in it. However, Steve turns on them. His own crew hijacks the money and attempts to kill his former partners. He mostly fails, though John dies along the way.
The movie then jumps ahead a year to Philadelphia. We learn that Stella works as a professional safecracker who uses her skills to help develop better locks. Due to the circumstances around Johnís death, Stella remains angry at Charlie. He comes to see her because he finally located Steve and wants to exact revenge. She initially refuses but she quickly changes her mind.
From there Charlie, Stella, and the rest of the old gang head out to California. The rest of the movie follows their efforts to get back at Steve. They plan to steal back the money that he lifted, so we watch their actions and all the necessary twists and turns.
Italian reprises some elements of the original 1969 version, but itís not really a strict remake. Both films involve capers for gold, some of the same character names, and the use of Mini Coopers for a car chase climax. Otherwise, the pair donít have all that much in common.
Some of the new elements improve upon the original, while others donít. The biggest weakness is that the 2003 Italian simply seems more generic than the first flick. While stylish and flashy, this one doesnít appear as distinctive and original. The 1969 take had a nice sense of irreverence and spunk, whereas the 2003 one is more of a traditional action caper movie.
One improvement comes from the definition of the characters. Outside of a few prime participants, the 1969 film lacked any distinctive personalities; it included a long roster of gang members, few of whom stood out from the crowd. The 2003 Italian better develops the different roles. Sure, they all get stuck with one-dimensional attributes, but thatís better than the no-dimensional portrayals from the first. They all get their fun through-lines and create reasonably entertaining characters.
The biggest casting problem stems from Wahlberg. Frankly, I canít quite figure out how he became such a success, as the man canít act. He presents such a dull and listless personality in all his roles, and his take on Charlie doesnít change my impression of him in that regard. Wahlberg certainly doesnít feel like a satisfactory replacement for Michael Caine, the original Croker.
Still, though itís somewhat formulaic, the 2003 Italian Job offers a fairly light and nimble adventure. It lacks a terrific sense of individuality, but it executes its story with reasonable flair and panache. You probably wonít find much memorable in Italian, but youíll likely enjoy the ride.
The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-
The Italian Job appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. As one might expect from a recent flick, the movie presented a generally solid picture.
Sharpness created no concerns. I never noticed any issues connected to softness or a lack of definition. Instead, the film looked crisp and concise at all times. Jagged edges and shimmering didnít interfere with the image, but a little light edge enhancement manifested itself at times. Print flaws barely intruded. Grain seemed slightly heavier than normal but not by much. I also noticed a couple of specks and one small streak.
As often occurs with modern action flicks, Job featured a fairly stylized palette at times. Much of the movie remained fairly natural, but some sequences took on a cool and altered tone. The colors consistently came across as well rendered, though. The hues were concise and accurate. Black levels seemed dense and deep, while shadows were appropriately opaque. In the end, Job gave us a fine visual presentation.
In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Italian Job seemed strong. The soundfield used all five channels effectively and created a lively sense of atmosphere. The film used a lot of different vehicles, and these allowed the track to present active movement. From cars to helicopters to boats, various elements zipped all around the spectrum and added a lot of life to the piece. Music showed nicely defined tones as well, and the track generally seemed involving and intense in its scope.
Audio quality seemed up to par for the most part. Dialogue demonstrated a few problems that mildly lowered my grade. Speech occasionally came across as somewhat edgy, something that shouldnít occur for a brand-new flick. Nonetheless, the lines remained intelligible at all times, and they usually seemed natural and distinct. Music demonstrated concise tones with good range and delineation. Effects were always crisp and detailed, and they featured nice low-end response when necessary. Nothing about The Italian Job really excelled, but it did most things well enough to merit a ďB+Ē.
This DVD of The Italian Job includes a moderate roster of supplements. Surprisingly, it doesnít come with an audio commentary. Instead, it includes mostly video programs. We start with an overall documentary called Pedal to the Metal: The Making of The Italian Job. This 18-minute and 16-second program features the standard mix of movie shots, images from the production, and interviews. We get comments from director F. Gary Gray, producer Donald De Line, executive producer James Dyer, production designer Charles Wood, director of photography Wally Pfister, and actors Seth Green, Donald Sutherland, Mark Wahlberg, Mos Def, Charlize Theron, and Jason Statham. The show tells us a little about adapting the original tale, casting, locations and production logistics, and other brief notes. A little decent information pops up along the way, but mostly we just get hyperbole about what an amazing project this is and how great everyone is. Itís a fairly fluffy program.
After this follows a collection of four featurettes. First up is one entitled Putting the Words to the Page for The Italian Job. In this five-minute and 47-second piece, we hear a little from director Gray but mostly get remarks from screenwriters Donna and Wayne Powers. The featurette starts well as the pair tell us of their experiences with the original movie and their decisions in how to adapt it. They also discuss changes from the first to the final drafts. However, the second half of the show just talks about how good the result is. The early parts are good but the rest seems superficial.
Next we get The Italian Job - Driving School, a five-minute and 36-second study of training for the actors. We get notes from Gray, driving instructor Steve Kelso, producer De Line, and actors Theron, Wahlberg, and Statham. The program shows them in school and we find out a little about the sessions. Itís a short but reasonably interesting examination of its topic.
More car-related material appears via The Might Minis of The Italian Job. In this five-minute and 38-second piece, we find comments from Gray, De Line, executive producer Dyer, Theron, Wahlberg, and Statham. The show looks at the Minis, their use in the movie, and adaptations made to them for the flick. As with the prior pieces, itís not terribly deep, but it includes some interesting material about the autos.
The final featurette is called High Octane: Stunts from The Italian Job and it runs seven minutes, 52 seconds. We discover interviews with Gray, De Line, Wahlberg, Sutherland, Theron, Dyer, Green, Statham, special effects coordinator Joe Ramsey, and second unit director Alexander Witt. They go over shooting on the canals of Venice, the truck drop sequence, and filming stunts with helicopters. Unsurprisingly, this piece includes some decent moments but doesnít seem great. Still, it includes some nice shots from behind the scenes.
In addition to the filmís theatrical trailer, the DVD concludes with six Deleted Scenes. These last between 34 seconds and four minutes, one second for a total of eight minutes, 41 seconds of material. All but the first Ė and longest Ė add short snippets to the chase sequence, most of which focus on Left Earís sad attempts to deal with a stick shift. The first one establishes a little more about the relationship between Charlie and Stella. Itís the most interesting, but even it seems superfluous.
At times The Italian Job feels a little more generic than Iíd like, but it proves generally satisfying anyway. The movie tosses out enough intriguing elements to make it a light and lively adventure that doesnít tread any new ground but comes across as entertaining nonetheless. The DVD presents very good picture and audio along with a somewhat lackluster roster of extras. I didnít like The Italian Job enough to recommend a purchase, but itís a fun prospect for a rental.
Viewer Film Ratings: 3.95 Stars|| Number of Votes: 40|