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Wayback Wednesday: The Italian Job (2003)

The Italian Job…for the first 15 minutes.

Having actually seen the original movie and therefore able to properly compare both versions, I can say with complete certainty that The Italian Job (2003) is one of the best remakes Hollywood has ever put out. It’s definitely one of my personal favourites. While certified Blandest Man Alive Mark Wahlberg has absolutely nothing on Michael Caine, the King of Charisma, the rest of this movie delivers a high-octane, thrilling heist adventure that is the perfect movie for just about anybody. As someone who comes from a family where we have watched this movie COUNTLESS times over the last nearly two decades, I can confirm that this is a movie that won’t yield any complaints. Filled with action? Check. Lighthearted and fun? Absolutely. Slick and cool? Yes it is. A romance that’s fairly unearned but the movie pushes on us anyway? It’s an action movie from the 2000s so you bet your bottom that’s in there too!

Credit: / Paramount Pictures

A remake of the 1969 movie of the same name, The Italian Job follows Charlie Croker and his team of thieves who plan an elaborate gold heist against Steve, their former ally who betrayed them and left them for dead. They recruit Stella Bridger, a master safecracker and daughter of their fallen comrade, and travel to L.A. to pull off a heist to not only avenge her father, but rob Steve of $27 million dollars worth of gold.

Like I said, The Italian Job is one of my favourite remakes. It also happens to be one of my favourite heist / action movies. As a remake, it succeeds at taking the premise and essence of the original and elaborates on it and updates it for a 21st century audience. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the original movie, but the remake of The Italian Job feels much more character-driven and fleshed-out. While the rest of the crew is arguably one-dimensional, though still thoroughly enjoyable, Charlie and Stella’s motivations for getting back at Steve are clear as crystal and help sell why they take this job as seriously as they do. Having leads that you can relate to on an emotional level elevate this to a level higher than your average action movie. This was for sure my introduction to Charlize Theron and Edward Norton, by the way. Even now, whenever I see them in big-budget or Oscar-winning movies, I say to myself, “good for Stella and Steve from The Italian Job! Love to see them getting work!”

As a heist movie, The Italian Job does a good job of balancing the emotional heartbeat at the movie’s centre with enough thrilling stunts and exciting car chases to keep any viewer fully engrossed. Put your AirPods in young ones, Grandpa Luke is about to go on one of his “I Miss Practical Filmmaking” rants again: This movie is almost 20 years old and it looks fantastic! This movie is a testament to why using real sets / locations instead of a green screen and utilizing practical effects over CGI is so worth it! I can’t tell you how many times I watched this movie growing up and continue to do so today, partly because it looks so good! And I’m not just talking about the stunning shots of Venice. I’m still utterly blown away by the precision and expertise of pretty much everything involving the Mini Coopers. The Italian Job is one of those movies that multiple times makes you stop and go, “wow. How could they possibly have filmed that?”

As with the best heist movies, things are always evolving in The Italian Job and the characters have to adapt to the changes on the fly. It makes for a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat, constantly switching things up. The movie as a whole is very well-paced and I couldn’t think of a single moment where I was bored. It’s also hard to be bored when you assemble a gang of thieves as awesome as this one. Theron, Seth Green, Mos Def and Jason Statham? I would happily join this gang in a heartbeat. Though everyone delivers performances that I’ve more or less seen from them before, they’re all inherently enjoyable. Each one gets the chance to shine, creating memorable moments that my brother and I have been quoting back and forth to each other for over a decade. “I. HAD. A. BAD. EXPERIENCE.” That kills me every time. Green might be my favourite part of The Italian Job. I fucking love Seth Green and consider this my official declaration to strive to see every movie he’s made. He’s always a ton of fun. In terms of performances though, I think Norton is the M.V.P. As Steve, he plays the perfect scumbag. Like, he’s creepy and I certainly wouldn’t want to be alone with him. Steve is a dummy though. His downfall is all because he forgot one of the cardinal rules of villainy: If you’re going to leave someone for dead, MAKE SURE THEY’RE DEAD!

It’s a shame that a sequel to The Italian Job was never made. I mean, it just makes sense! Who wouldn’t want to watch these characters pull off another gripping heist? Perhaps one set against the backdrop of Paris or London! Sequels always up the ante so I can only imagine how big and bold that sequel would have been considering how explosive this movie already is. I’m confident it would have been just as good if not even better. Though the public’s interest in The Italian Job probably evaporated by the late 2000s, I would be so down for the cast to reunite for a 2023 sequel! Although the likelihood of that happening probably isn’t very high. In all honesty, we’re much more likely to get an unwanted reboot starring bad actors that we’ll all instantly forget about. Come on Paramount, just do it!

Credit: / Paramount Pictures

My admiration for The Italian Job is just as strong today as it was the first time I saw it all those years ago. It never fails to entertain and excite. If you’re familiar with this movie, lucky you! If you aren’t, oh my gosh, go watch it on Netflix! It holds up even after 10,000 viewings. Although, even though I’ve seen the movie so many times, there is still one aspect about the movie that puzzles me to this day. What exactly is Stella’s job and / or business?  A “professional safe and vault technician…” what does that mean? What is this storefront she has? Is this a lucrative career? Is Philadelphia a prime city to set up shop in? I have questions!

Have you seen The Italian Job?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!


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