The 2003 film stars Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker, Charlize Theron as Stella Bridger, Donald Sutherland as her father John, Jason Statham as Handsome Rob, Seth Green as Lyle, Mos Def as Left Ear, and Edward Norton as the villain Steve. Norton was contractually obligated to make a film for the studio and kept refusing to honor his contract. He finally was forced to make this film and tried to get his revenge afterwards by telling everyone how horrible it was. For the most part people ignored him and he ended up hurting himself more than he did the film. He was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers precisely because he was known as someone who was difficult to deal with.
The Italian Job (2003) opens with a heist in
. The people pulling off the heist are the ones mentioned in the prior paragraph, minus Stella Bridger. They get away with the gold, but Steve double crosses everyone. He leaves them for dead and makes off with all of the gold himself. The others manage to get away, but Sutherland’s John Bridger character is fatally wounded. By the way, this film features multiple nods to Sutherland’s 1970 film Kelly’s Heroes about a group of GIs trying to steal Nazi gold, especially Sutherland’s character telling everyone they need to think positive. Venice
A few years later Charlie has managed to track down Steve living in
. He gets the old group back together, all of them wanting revenge. They figure the best revenge is not to kill him, but to steal back all the gold he took from them. There’s a big problem, though. John Bridger was their safe cracking expert, but he is now dead. Charlie looks up his daughter Stella. She has chosen a different path. While she has her father’s talents, she uses them to make a living testing corporate security. She saw her father spend too many years in jail and wants nothing to do with stealing stuff for real. When Charlie tells her he’s found the man who killed her father, though, she agrees to join them. The others aren’t thrilled to have a rookie with them, but they agree to proceed. Los Angeles
They end up using Stella to enter Steve’s home as a cable repairman. He flirts with her and invites her on a date. She accepts. He’s not a stupid man, though. He figures out she must be the daughter of John Bridger that he hasn’t seen for many years. Once the jig is up Charlie reveals himself. Steve knows that they are all there to steal his gold and the others know he knows. This leads to a great final act in the film where both sides are like the great fastball pitcher vs. the great fastball hitter. Both are basically saying, “Here’s my best. Let’s see what you can do with it.”
The mini Coopers are a key part of the film. Director F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator) had all of the actors do weeks of training with stunt drivers. He wanted to film the movie in a way where you could tell it was really them in the driver’s seat. The best example is one where it shows Theron sitting in a still car smiling at the others. She then reverses the car away from the camera and does a 180 with it, then drives away. We can tell that was really Theron doing the driving. The other actors even acknowledged that she was the best driver among them. Best doesn’t mean “most law abiding”, though. While on location Theron picked up two speeding tickets. After learning to drive so fast she found she couldn’t keep her speed down in the real world.
Comic relief is provided by Seth Green as computer hacker Lyle. In a now dated reference he keeps telling everyone how he was the one who really invented Napster, but Shawn Fanning stole it from him. Nobody believes him, of course. They figure it is just a tall tale. At one point during the movie we see a flashback to Lyle asleep in front of his computer in college. A man comes in and steals the computer disk from Lyle’s computer. This is the real Shawn Fanning in a funny cameo.
The reason to see this film is for the heists and the action. If you don’t like these kinds of movies then you should probably skip this one. On the other hand, if you like them as much as I do, then I recommend you give this film a try.
Chip’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video
DVD Blu-ray Instant Video