Italian Job [2003]

Director: Peter Collinson
Stars: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 99 minutes

The Italian Job (2003) Though it bears little resemblance to the original 1969 thriller starring Michael Caine, the 2003 remake of The Italian Job stands on its own as a caper comedy that's well above average. The title's a misnomer--this time it's actually a Los Angeles job--but the action's just as exciting as it propels a breezy tale of honor and dishonor among competing thieves. Inheriting Caine's role as ace heist-planner Charlie Croker, Mark Wahlberg plays straight-man to a well-cast team of accomplices, including Mos Def, Jason Statham, and scene-stealer Seth Green in a variation of the role originally played by Noel Coward. As the daughter of Croker's ill-fated mentor (Donald Sutherland), Charlize Theron is recruited to double-cross a double-crosser (Edward Norton in oily villain mode), and once again, speedily versatile Mini Coopers play a pivotal role in director F. Gary Gray's exhilarating car-chase climax. It's perhaps the greatest product placement in movie history, and just as fun the second time around. --Jeff Shannon The Italian Job (1969) This little-known cult caper is about as depraved as they come. Michael Caine, ever the enterprising swinger and swindler, has an ingenious plan to steal a huge cache of Chinese gold to be shipped to Turin as collateral for a new Fiat plant. Since the Italy-Great Britain soccer match is being played at the same time, Caine wants to create a diversion in the form of a monumental traffic jam. For financing, he turns to Noel Coward, who directs British criminal enterprises from his jail cell. A motley crew is assembled, including Benny Hill as a computer expert with a fetish for large-breasted women. It's all a nasty and fun parody, with the most memorable robbery-chase sequence in the history of the caper genre. --Bill Desowitz

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