Running Time: 104 mins
Based on the 1969 film of the same name, The Italian Job is a decent action-adventure if you leave your critical faculties at the box office.
John Bridges (Sutherland) is the godfather of a big and daring swindle. He organises an intricately planned gold heist that goes unexpectedly wrong. As a result Bridges looses everything, and his godsons are $35 million the poorer. One of their number, however, Steve Frezelli (Norton), is $35 million the richer. When Charlie (Wahlberg) finds Steve in Los Angeles he gathers the old team together again to take back the loot. He also asks John Bridge's daughter Stella (Charlie Theron) to tag along as well. When Steve moves the gold out onto the streets of LA, Charlie's devils move in for the chase.
This film takes its name from Venice, the original place from where the gold is stolen. The action scenes there and in Switzerland are spectacular. Cinematographer Wally Pfister has done an outstanding job, as does director F. Gary Gray in structuring the multiple action sequences. No wonder The Italian job has two credited editors. They earn their money.
The problem is the story. When the double cross happens Steve swims away with 400 gold bars. I know nothing about gold bars except that they're supposed to be heavy. That makes this nautical manoeuvre highly unlikely.
Furthermore, given that humans are short on blubber, it's hard to see how Steve and Charlie and the boys can survive their respective dips in the freezing waters of an Alpine River surrounded by snow.
Finally, Steve seems genuinely surprised when Charlie and the team turn up in LA. Steve must never watch the news. A $35 million gold heist by team of crooks whose van is recovered in Switzerland, but with only one body inside, should indicate that some of the others may be on the loose.
As far-fetched as it is, the action sequences are great, the sound design loud, the acting cool and the product placement manifold.
The dubious morality of The Italian job reinforces the old principle that the worst crime of all is for a crook to doublecross a crook. I kept wondering about the Italian who owned the gold in the first place.
Fr Richard Leonard SJ is the Director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.