The Italian Job


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The Italian Job
The Masked Reviewer

Do you like caper movies?  No, not movies about those little pickled things you put on top of veal.  Capers!  Heists!  Robberies!  High crime.  That's what The Italian Job is all about.  It has very little to do with breaking legs and saying "fuggetaboudit". 

The Italian Job is a remake of the 1969 film, The Italian Job.  There are a few similarities between the two films, most notably the use of the Mini Cooper automobile.  The car is featured prominently in both films.  One might wonder if the manufacturer of the Mini sponsored both films.  Or, perhaps the director of each film received a Mini Cooper, which is quite comfortable and fun to drive.  And don't get me started about all the included features.  (Hey, if the filmmakers can get free Mini Coopers, why shouldn't the Masked Reviewer cash in too?)

The new Italian Job brings together Mark Wahlberg (whatever happened to the Funky Bunch, anyway?), Charlize Theron, Ed Norton ("Hey hey, Ralphie boy!" -- he probably never gets tired of hearing that), Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def (one of the few people who can enter their full name with only two entries on the high score list on Ms. Pac Man), and Donald Sutherland.  And, of course, the fuel efficient Mini Cooper.

The caper element of the film is fine.  It seems very much like Oceans Eleven for the actors that couldn't get into that film.  They all have their charms and are fun to watch.  It is a movie that tells us not only does crime pay, but it's a lot of fun too!  Everything in the film is inconsequential, and there is no impending threat from the police.  But it's not meant to be a crime drama, just a somewhat comedic heist movie.

A love interest is set up between Wahlberg and Theron, but it doesn't go anywhere.  Besides, what if they got married in real life and kept both names?  Theron-Wahlberg?  It sounds like a neurological disorder.

The comedic highlights come from Jason Statham (The Transporter, Snatch) and Seth Green (Scott in Austin Powers films).  Mos Def also has a couple of good lines.  Seriously hard core computer nerds and faithful readers of the Wall Street Journal  may also recognize a cameo by Napster inventor Shawn Flemming.  His five seconds of screen time is the basis for most of Seth Green's character.

They have a lot of cool nicknames in the film.  "Handsome Rob".  "Left Ear".  "Wrench".  "Steve."  It's hard to pull off a job like this without cool nicknames, and they deliver.

Why is it that the computer guy in these movies always has to do so much work?  In this movie, the computer guy has to take care of the hardest parts.  It seems like he should get a bigger share of the loot.  Which brings us to another issue: at one point in the film, someone takes all the loot (that's caper lingo for gold).  The haul was $35,000,000 (which is almost 9 times what the haul was in the original film -- inflation).  There were six people on the job.  That's $5.8 million each.  When the others try to steal the money back from the evil thief that stole from the others (no honor among thieves), there's only $27,000,000 left.  That means the evil thief spent $8,000,000.  If he had split up the money fairly after the first caper, he only would've had $5.8 million.  In other words, not only does crime pay, but stealing from your friends pays even better.  The Masked Reviewer will remember that.

Sure, there were a few minor technical flaws with the film.  For example, a safe must be cracked.  A hole has to be drilled through it, but there's a glass plate that might get broken between the metal walls of the safe.  If the glass plate breaks, metal bars snap into place sealing the safe forever.  The safecracker drills a bit and the glass starts to crack.  Oooh...suspensful.  However, the same safe just fell 30 feet onto concrete.  It must be that special glass that only cracks when drilled, not dropped.  But, the Masked Reviewer might be nitpicking.

All in all, though, it's a fun little diversion.  It lacks the ultracool hippness of Oceans Eleven and the really clever caper elements of films like Heist.  If you liked those films, The Italian Job will be right up your back alley.  If you want a deep, thrilling, mysterious adventure, or a brooding exploration of the soul of a criminal, pass on this film.  It's fine, the actors are fun to watch, but all in all it's not terribly memorable.  A light diversion (which is what they usually do before stealing your money, so watch out).

Expectation from the Title: A movie about some new kind of sexual act that involves spaghetti sauce.  Hookers charge $35 for these.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  They all seem to like each other, and it's nice when people work well together.

The Pros: Fun, light, decent driving scenes.  Likeable actors.  Best cameo for a file sharing service creator.

The Cons: Thin characters, not-too-compelling plot. Love story not so hot.  No nudity.  Might be too meaningless for many.


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