Plot: What’s it about?
“The Italian Job” is yet another in a series of movies to be re-made. I suppose the question we have to ask ourselves is this: does a movie really need to be done again? Well, the answer is tricky and everyone’s got their own opinion. Sometimes movies that are made again (same storyline and all) are better than the original (“Ocean’s Eleven”); sometimes it’s hard to say (“Solaris”, “Cape Fear”) and sometimes we wonder why we didn’t just stick with the original and let a good movie speak for itself (“Psycho”). In any case, Hollywood is going to do what they want to do: make movies that make money. Right? “The Italian Job” represents somewhat of a comeback for Mark Wahlberg, who was the “It” boy a few years back with “Boogie Nights” but then kind of fell off the map. While the rest of the cast has had its successes and failures, we know they’re all in place because that’s what we do nowadays. Movies with an entourage are so much more impressive and fun than just focusing the action on one man (unless it’s someone like Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise, but even they are fallible). However, the movie was somewhat of a surprise hit so they did something right. Did anyone call Michael Caine?
At the very heart of “The Italian Job” is a story of revenge, pure and simple. We open with a carefully thought-out plan to steal $35 million in gold bars in Italy (hence the name of the movie). The plan goes off without a hitch and the members of the team stand to become filthy rich, though they’re even not quite sure what to do with all of their newfound riches. This is until Steve (Edward Norton) pulls a fast one and decides to take all of the money for himself (killing a member of the crew in the process). Believing them to be dead, Steve gets away. We flash forward to one year later and the surviving members of the gang are still hell-bent on getting even. They’ve learned that Steve is living it up in Los Angeles and occasionally sells some of his stash when he needs some quick cash (“quick cash” being a few hundred thousand dollars). As they recruit Stella Bridger (Charlize Theron, perhaps the most beautiful actress working today), an expert safecracker, she is the key to help them get what is rightfully theirs. Naturally, we don’t think it will be as easy as knocking on the door and asking for the money back, where’s the fun in that. But the plan that the gang comes up with is almost too smart for their own good…
Director F. Gary Gray is better-known for his work behind the camera on films like “Friday”, ”The Negotiagor” and “Set it Off”; but he’s done a pretty good job here. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s good as there would be plenty of reasons to pick the film apart. As it stands, the movie seems to flow at a pretty decent pace and has enough action in it to keep most anyone interested. Whalberg plays the title role of Charlie Croker with a crew that includes Donald Sutherland, Jason Statham (The Transporter and Snatch) and Seth Green who adds plenty of comic relief, sometime even when it’s not needed. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by “The Italian Job” and though I’ve not seen the original, I plan to see where the two differ. One thing is for sure, if we’re to remake all of Michael Caine’s old action films from the early 70’s, let’s not do anything more with “Get Carter”. Ok? If you set your mind for some mindless action and eye candy (in the form of Charlize Theron), then odds are you’ll have a good time.
Video: How does it look?
“The Italian Job” looks good on all accounts. A big budget movie that was made for Summer audiences, it sports a 2.35:1 anamorphic ratio. There’s really not a lot to complain about here, the image is clean and solid throughout without the slightest worry of edge enhancement or any artifacting. Colors are strong and vibrant and tough there seems to be some somewhat “dimmer” scenes towards the opening, there are some equally appealing scenes that counteract those. The movie is new to DVD and as such, we should expect the film to look as good as it does. Flesh tones are right on target and the wider aspect ratio makes for a great viewing experience.
Audio: How does it sound?
As far as action movies go, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack sounds pretty good here. The surrounds are very active throughout and there’s plenty of action to keep most all of your speakers humming for the entire 108 minutes. Dialogue sounds clean and natural and though the front speakers provide the most action, the LFE kicks in and does its part as well. Again, like the picture, this is what we might expect from a major studio and given the genre, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. There’s not much else to say except that the movie delivers here as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
As part of Paramount’s “Special Collector’s Edition” series, we can expect more supplements than they put on their catalog titles (which is usually none). This isn’t a robust “Two-Disc Special Edition” by any means, but the assembled variety of supplements is sure to please any fan of the movie. Essentially there is a handful of featurettes that focus on different aspects of the movie (stunts, making of, and “The Italian Job” Driving school). While these have been done and redone (and most likely will be done again), I found that the Stunts and Driving School were two of the more interesting features. Driving plays a big part in the movie (with the “trendy” Cooper cars no less) as do stunts. Both of these show how sequences were filmed and edited for the final film. Interesting to say the least. Six deleted scenes are shows, but it’s obvious as to why they were left on the cutting room floor and the original theatrical trailer is included as well. So while not stuffing so many supplements down our throat as to choke us, “The Italian Job” has just enough to whet our appetites. If the original is more to your liking, that has many supplements as well. A pretty good little film, check your brains at the door and you’ll enjoy it.