First time I’d ever really given this title a second look was the result of reading a fellow reviewer’s rundown on it. She did such an excellent job of interesting me that when I found it in the “bargain bin,” I decided to give it a try. After all, I love a good mystery.
One last heist: That is all it was meant to be. There is one last job to pull, and then, John Bridger is out of the game. He already has a parole officer but despite leaving without his permission he wants to be sure his crew is left in good hands so he charges his second in command – the guy who is like a son to him, Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) to take lead. Everything is planned down to the last minute and everything must go right. This job will see the six-man crew walk away with 35-million dollar payoff in gold. The plan goes off without a hitch but while en route to their destination – after escaping the clutches of police and pursuers, the team is ambushed by men armed with machine guns… and one of their own planned it. Steve (Edward Norton) is tired of being treated as second best so he double crosses them. He shoots John, prompting the getaway driver, Rob (Jason Statham) to attempt escape. With no where to go, the van careens over the railing into the water and after satisfying himself that no one could have survived, Steve walks away with the entire take.
Stella (Charlize Theron) is an expert safe cracker. Everyone in the field knows it – it is the reason that government agencies know to call on her professional company, and skills when they need a safe opened. In the year following the death of her father, Stella has focused on her work and is not pleased to see Charlie Croker walk back into her life. Charlie and the gang have found Steve. He has changed his name and lives in L.A., but they have confirmation it is Steve thanks to a tip about a man selling the gold bars for cash. Now, all they need is an expert safe cracker – they need Stella. Refusing to get caught up in a plot of revenge for her father’s death or to become a thief, Stella says no… but taking away everything from the man who murdered her father is too tempting for her to ignore.
Based off of a 1969 film with the same title, I honestly do not know how this one slipped past my notice – all I can surmise is I wasn’t keeping “up” on the latest movie news back when this one was making news. Good mysteries are popular at my house so it comes as no surprise that this movie is now among my favorites. It has class, wit and a great cast – plus the movie throws us a curveball or two but it never pretends to be cleverer than it knows it can be – it knows its limits and caters to those, well within the bounds of being a “good” film. Mostly it is a summer flick that is perfect for anyone wanting to be entertained for an hour-and-a-half with no greater expectations. In short, it provides a way fun form of escapism from whatever task we should be doing – and aren’t.
Just one of the reasons I loved this movie is due to it keeping us on the edge of our seats without falling into the trap of the overblown “thriller” genre. It is suspenseful but not by using tactics that frighten or cheap gimmicks, instead it is clever, and at defining points, this is easily one script that actually has “game.” The methods that the characters plan the heist is outside-the-box thinking and I loved what it results in – I just wish it was actually filmed instead of being a mere idea. This brings me to the characters. I loved each of them. I loved Stella’s smart sass as she zips around in her little red Mini Cooper. Charlie’s protective nature was commendable (allowing for a fabulous, wholesome relationship between he and Stella – for a change!) and each of the supporting characters were lots (and lots) of fun. Whether it was Lyle kvetching about inventing premier technology that was stolen from him or Steve baiting his former comrades, these characters are anything but dull. The cast is an impressive gathering of staying power, name recognition and Oscar winner. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
The direction and script are both executed with style – the last fifteen minutes in particular are great fun. We get caught up in the chase along with the characters leading to an adrenaline rush which transitions nicely into a great ending (aren’t those hard to come by these days!?). Each of the settings is equally fabulous while the banter keeps things light and the story moving along. It may not be an “epic” film in its genre, but The Italian Job has a lot going for it. The pacing and fabulous cast keeps us on our toes while the audience can also see that this isn’t trying to be something it isn’t. This is one ‘job’ you may want to sign up for – it’s a five star fun fest.
(Points of concern: Rated PG13 the film has some stronger profanity including a single use of the f-word and a crude gesture. One man sleeps with a woman in order to gain access to her company car keys [all the camera shows is them lying in bed, clothed]; there is some flirting and suggestive innuendoes, there is a joke about a stereo so loud, it will blow a woman’s “clothes off” [Stella dresses immodestly]. Violence includes two men being shot and a man is handed over to Russian mafia. A van goes into a body of water with passengers and a spray of bullets after it. There is a potentially “tense” car chase nearer the climax.)