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"The Italian Job"

Directed by F. Gary Gray.
Written by Donna Powers and Wayne Powers.  Based on the 1969 film of the same name.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron and Edward Norton.
Release Year:  2003
Review Date:  6/4/03


Mom and I were hangin’ out this past weekend while I was out in DC, so as usual, I took her out to see a flick.  After she heartily refused to see “Finding Nemo”, we decided on the heist remake “The Italian Job”, based on the 1969 Michael Caine film of the same name.

Every year, Hollywood succeeds in giving us at least one nearly-perfect summer film.  By that, I mean studio execs make a film that never aspires to do anything more than entertain--attractive stars, a little action, a little romance, a few laughs, and a fast-moving pace no matter how good or bad the actual story of the film is.  “The Italian Job” delivers on all of these fronts.  The premise is exactly what you saw in the trailer--a bunch of guys, led by Charlie (Mark Wahlberg), steal some gold from a house in Venice.  One of Charlie’s cohorts, a shifty-looking guy named Steve (Edward Norton), double-crosses the team and leaves the group for dead.  A year later, decidedly-undead Charlie and his mates try to track Steve down and get that gosh-darned gold back.

The beautiful locales of Venice--and, a simply badass gondola garage, which I decided WILL be part of my next house--matched with a well-photographed Los Angeles, where the Hunt for Steve takes place, make for pretty scenery.  The folks in the scenery do their best to look cool and focused, so along with Norton and Wahlberg, we get Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Franky G and Mos Def, all looking cool and...focused.  Laugh support comes from all of the minor characters, so Mos Def and Seth Green get most of the good lines, especially when Green mocks Statham’s Handsome Rob character while he hits on a cable installation girl.  The opening and closing heist scenes are very well done and insert just enough reality to make things plausible.  And, who doesn’t love the Mini Cooper?  (It will be noted that the filmmakers are not trying to pimp out the Mini by making this film; in fact, the Minis are the central vehicle for the original version of the movie as well.)

The pace of the film is perfect for those looking to show up and just turn the brain off for two hours.  The story goes down easy and one can tell that the producers wanted to just stick to the formula on this one.  The filmmakers must be commended for keeping this bare bones, since the original apparently was not what one might call “artsy.”

Sure, the stuff with the Wahlberg/Theron romantic angle was not necessary, and there are a couple of rather violent moments in the film, a film that could probably have been fine with a PG rating even though it stands at a PG-13.  The film is so shallow that the writers don’t even bother to go over with us why the Mos Def character hates dogs so much....just that he had a “bad experience.”  The perfect place for a silly flashback sequence, that scene is just left to fend for itself while I wondered, “at what point in the film will he be at home drinking over his hatred of dogs?”  Never comes.

But, no matter.  I was very happy with the results and this deserves a little of your cash if you can spare it.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09