Thu, May 24, 2018 08:56 AM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
2003-06-04 tracking life & times section
'Italian Job' is action event of summer
Cletus Turner
I've wanted to see The Italian Job ever since I saw a "Making of" on HBO. I was rather surprised to hear that the actors actually did their own stunts for the film, unusual because of the cost of insurance on actors. I also got to see the fact that F. Gary Gray and his team of special effects personnel used innovative camera angles to get just the right shot. I was already impressed, but wanted to reserve judgement until I saw the film and decided whether the plot would stand on its own with the need for the "special" camera angles.

The film begins with a heist in Venice, hence the name of the film. We see Charlie, played by Mark Wahlberg and John, an aging safe cracker who bemoans the fact that he spent most of his daughter's life in prison played by Donald Sutherland, leading a group of robbers into a mansion and stealing $35 million in gold bars. How is this feat accomplished? Lyle, played by the clownish Seth Green of the Austin Powers films, uses computers to calculate where to set charges so that once they are detonated, the safe the gold is in will fall straight through several floors and into the waters off the boat dock on the bottom floor. The group has a boat that immediately takes off so that the police will follow it while Charlie and John put on scuba gear to crack the safe and leave with the gold. It was very ingenious of the writers to have the robbers exit right under the police boat.

Once the gold has been liberated, the group consisting of Handsome Rob, played by Jason Statham; Left Ear, played by Mos Def and Steve, played by Ed Norton, with the people mentioned before, head to Austria. Once they are across the border, they stop to celebrate their escape. However, once they are under way again, a car meets them in the middle of a long bridge over a lake and suddenly, Steve is double crossing them. He shoots John before Handsome Rob drives the vehicle into the lake. Steve unloads quite a few bullets into the lake before believing the group dead. Problem for him is they aren't. The scuba gear, or more specifically the air tanks, keep the group alive.

Fast forward to a year later. The group has finally tracked Steve to Los Angeles and Charlie has enlisted the help of John's daughter Stella, played by Charlize Theron. Stella, at first, refuses to go. She is a professional safe cracker, only she uses her ability to help the safe companies and the police. When Charlie proposes that she help, she is at first indignant. She cracks safes, but never looks in them. I feel like this was her way to keep from having the temptation of taking anything. She thinks about it for a while and finally decides to join the group, for her father's memory. What happens from this moment on, I will leave for you to watch the film. To get too indepth would ruin the twists and turns. I was surprised at least twice and that is saying quite a bit. Having seen several films, at least one a week for the past three years, it gets rather hard to surprise me. This film did.

Mark Wahlberg is either being typecast, just can't act, or should watch which directors he works with. It seems like he has only one note. The quite brooding hero gets old after a while. He needs to stretch out and do something different. Admittedly, Boogie Nights was different and his turn in The Sixth Sense was different, but the past three movies I have seen him in were the same character.

Charlize Theron is one of the premiere female actresses today. She is beautiful, smart, and can act. She is no damsel in distress in this movie. She drives the Mini Cooper, a European vehicle, with the best of them. However, she is still tender enough to cry on Charlie's shoulder. It is unusual to see that balance and still have the actress pull it off.

Ed Norton was good as the bad guy, but he just wasn't into the role to me. He wasn't powerful enough for lack of a better word. The evil just wasn't there. He started out good when his character turned on his friends, but, after that, the character seemed too understated to be an adequate bad guy.

As for Seth Green, Jason Statham and Mos Def, they, along with Sutherland and Theron, make up for the inadequacies of Wahlberg and Norton. It is because of their strong performances that The Italian Job is a great film It is the action event of the summer. It has car chases, boat chases, romance, suspense and comedy all in one film.

Finding Nemo shocked industry insiders. The film was supposed to be a hit, but not break records. The film garnered $70.3 and took the number one spot away from Bruce Almighty which fell to second. Nemo broke the record for the highest grossing premiere of an animated film. It also was the highest grossing premiere for Disney and Pixar, the films distributors.

Bruce came in second with $37.3 million. The hit film's total gross rose to $137.3 million in a ten-day time span. In third for the weekend was The Italian Job. The robber-versus-robber flick garnered $19.5 million in its debut. In fourth was The Matrix Reloaded. While the film is fading, it still had enough steam to pull in $15.7 million. In fifth place was Daddy Daycare with $6.7 million. The Eddie Murphy flick shows that the actor isn't down for the count, yet.

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