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Last Updated: Monday, 22 September, 2003, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
Jury's out on Italian Job remake
by Jason Korsner
BBC News

Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham
The gang are out to get their revenge
The Italian Job is a slick Hollywood remake of the 1960s original.

"Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea." Take a classic 1960s British film, strip out everything except the title, the name of the main character and three Minis, and see what happens.

The end result is surprisingly watchable.

By casting aside the familiar story, the film-makers side-step any accusations of destroying a much-loved classic.

Instead, they have delivered what amounts to more of a sequel than a remake: the same central character, with a comparable crew, using similar techniques to do the same kind of things.

But the best way to enjoy this slick, thrill-filled Hollywood confection is to forget about the original.

While Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) and his team of high-tech specialist thieves are celebrating a cunning $35m (21m) gold heist in Venice, one of them (Edward Norton) turns on the others, and escapes with the loot.

He kills safe-cracking veteran John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) and leaves the others for dead.

Mark Wahlberg
Wahlberg is no Michael Caine

A year later, Charlie traces his nemesis to LA, reforms the gang - replacing Bridger with his daughter Stella (Charlize Theron) - and sets out to retrieve the gold and get revenge, using even more cunning means.

This updated version blows its predecessor out of the water when it comes to state-of-the-art gadgets, stylish locations, faster cars and thrilling chase sequences.

And being Hollywood, it has a more complex, intricately-structured script, complete with revenge plot and a love story.

The flipside is that it also comes with corny dialogue and stylised character names, like Skinny Pete, Handsome Rob and Left-Ear, although strangely, they cannot come up with anything more inventive for the film's turncoat, Steve.

Injecting vitality into the original formula leaves no room for any of the one-liners, music or personality that made the 1969 film such a classic.

Passionless

Ed Norton, reportedly starring against his will to fulfil a studio contract, shamelessly sleepwalks through his role.

And Mark Wahlberg, who was no Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes, is certainly no Michael Caine here.

He is fine playing new roles but under direct comparison with the Hollywood greats, he has all the charisma of a dead fish.

With the closing credits approaching, a train disappears into the distance. You can almost feel a sharp bend on a narrow mountain track, around the next corner.

But just as Hollywood imposes its glitz and glamour, so it also trades in cinema's most famous cliff-hanger for a neat and tidy Hollywood ending.

The Italian Job is on release in the UK now.

The debate below is now closed.

I found this surprisingly enjoyable. I was expecting to hate it, but by leaving the original well alone and simply taking a couple of points of inspiration, the makers have come up with an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. And the minis are always amusing. I'm not anticipating many Oscars though...
Phill Tromans, UK

I really enjoyed it but then I didn't watch it through the eyes of a self-righteous bore hung up on the notion that they don't make films like they used to any more.
James, UK

I thought that film was very good, even better than the original! No way, can this be called a remake - it isn't. It is great fun and very watchable. If I had to give it a score out of 10, it would be 9 out of 10!!!!
Neil Hobbs, UK

Totally lacked the quirky British charm of the first one, usual Hollywood fare really. Mark Wahlberg's character didn't seem to have the charisma to be an international criminal? Think someone like George Clooney in his Ocean's Eleven role would have been better, inject some kind of humour into the part.
Katherine, UK

Very impressed. To really appreciate it you have to take it in isolation from the original
Nick, UK
I find the description of it being a remake to be wrong, especially when reference is made to the Italian Job by 'Charlie'. I found the film to be very good with very good driving effects and an excellent plot with good twists and turns. Although please do not compare films as they are both very different in their objectives, both very good, but both different in their own rights.
Chris, England

Seth Green makes it half way interesting! Yummy yummy. Mark Wahlberg aint half bad either, the film would hve been good if there wasn't a previous film to compare it to, not saying the first one is rubbish but I went into the cinema with expectations that the film just did not live up to. The cast definitely did their best and deserve credit for that. 4/10 overall we think.
Hannah O'Riordan and Jenny Richards, England

All the people I've talked to about this movie are comparing it to the original. To be honest I was as well, but I watched in anyway.

In the end I am glad I saw it because it was really quite good. It isn't a carbon copy of the original (thank god) but it does have similarities. It is with relief that I said that because it would have been terrible if they tried to copy the famous line by Michael Caine: "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!!!" In an ironic twist I thought that the heist at the beginning that starts the whole film off was the best bit because I wasn't expecting it, the mini seqeunce was good but I ended up comparing it to the far superior original mini chase! Oh and one last thing........ what happened to the end!?!?
Matt.O, UK

Very impressed. To really appreciate it you have to take it in isolation from the original. Yes, Ed Norton seems bored and Mark Wahlberg out of his depth, but if you want to swith off & be entertained for 90 minutes, it's perfect for a saturday night. And that to me makes a perfect movie.
Nick, UK

As the owner of a new mini I was invited to a special preview of the film and wasn't sure what to expect. In fact the film was lots of fun, capturing the atmosphere of Venice at the beginning and moving at a fast pace. Contrary to almost every review I have read, I actually liked Mark Wahlberg's performance. But the best bit, coming out of the cinema to a car park full of minis, after all the car's the star!
Fiona, UK

Charlize Theron is gorgeous and the new Minis are a joy to watch as well
Mark, UK
Like they took the original idea and removed the humour, replacing it with tedious "action" sequences. And of course, the Americans had to remove any hint of the camp element that Noel Coward brought to the original. Incidentally - how did Mark Wahlberg get another acting part after ruining Planet of the Apes?
Ross Todhunter, UK

I thought the film was great, so was the first one. As a classic mini owner I was given free tickets to a premier showing last week at a local cinema - it was amazing the amount of people who would just not even watch 5 mins just because it had BMW minis in it.

As far as I am concerned it's just an up to date film, car chases just as good, music just as good. I would have no problem in going to watch it again.
Sue, UK

Let's pretend we haven't seen the original. Then, this movie was not too bad, just have some mindless enjoyment for two hours. That's what Hollywood's for, isn't it? I will give 8 out of 10 (by Hollywood standards, of course.)
Joon, Singapore

The film was enjoyable enough. The actress seems to be a cross between Laura Croft and the Terminatrix, but more lovely than both. All parts played fairly well, and the kids enjoyed it. What else can you ask?
Brian S, UK

I've never seen the original so I wasn't going to the cinema to make a comparison. I personally thought the film was fantastic and I'd give it 9.5 out of 10.

The script is well written and the action is second to none and not too far fetched which is always a bonus! The attention to detail of their plan (s) are unbelievable and I was in awe at how they pulled the jobs off.

Charlize Theron is gorgeous and the new Minis are a joy to watch as well. The original Napster is a very clever character and the things he does with his laptop are just amazing - makes you think though!

I loved the film and didn't want it to end to be honest. I can't wait to see it again and would highly recommend it to anyone - go see it!!!
Mark, UK

As the reviewer has said, this is not an Italian Job remake and as long as this is borne in mind it makes for an enjoyable if standard Hollywood caper. I do disagree with the comments about a more impressive car chase with the Minis, simply because this is not true. It's a chase done by the numbers without the little bit of something that made the original so good.

Also it's a rather glaring BMW marketing ploy as both the minis and the chase motorbikes are made by the same firm. And anyone who knows bikes, knows that BMW do not make exciting, fast or desirable machines which makes their choice odd to someone like myself.

Apart from these obvious points, the movie is not a bad one and like a previous comment, I watched it on a Trans-Atlantic flight and am pleased that I did.
Mark Chisholm, UK

I have to say that I really enjoyed this film. It's slick, it's exciting and watching the Minis weaving through LA is great fun
Nicki, UK
I thought it was pretty good, but would have been better if they had given Michael Caine a cameo role in it. It's worth watching just to see Edward Norton. If you look close enough you actually see Ed Norton's character watching the original Italian Job. Not bad entertainment value, worth a look on a rainy day!
Tinkerbell, UK/USA

It's neither a caper movie, or very interesting to watch. I couldn't care if they had got the gold or not in the end. Hollywood really is out of ideas because if this had been titled differently it would more likely be on a straight to video release. The best thing going on this movie was Donald Sutherlands all too brief appearance.
Paul Turner, Scotland

Enjoyable popcorn movie. Nothing more, nothing less. And the original is massively overrated. Benny Hill was in it, for God's sake!
Sheamus, UK

If they could make The Thomas Crown Affair again and do it well, why could they not do the same with The Italian Job? The story is completely changed for the worse, the use of minis arbitrary rather than appropriate, coupled with jarring comic relief. What a mess! Less a sequel and more a piece of judicious product placement riding on the coat tails of a classic.
Jim, UK

A clever and stylish film, thoroughly entertaining, that was enjoyed by all the family. Easily compares with the recent 007 and is way better than things like Charlie's Angels - but make sure you have seen Pirates first.
Chris, US

I won't judge it against the Michael Caine original, since I haven't seen the Michael Caine original, but all I can say is that I came out of the cinema thoroughly entertained and satisfied. Much more lighthearted and gentle-spirited than I'd been expecting (although there is violence in the film), and also much better written, directed and acted.

Seth Green steals the film as an embittered computer geek convinced he's the real brains behind Napster, while Edward Norton is a superb villain. Jason Statham is also fine as an East End hardman with a heart of gold, whose ducking, diving, bobbing and weaving role has Vinnie Jones written all over it. I went in expecting just mindless action and appallingly stupid characters and storytelling, and was very pleasantly surprised by a gripping and (nicely) old-fashioned caper yarn.
Yvonne Joyce, UK

I have to say that I really enjoyed this film. It's slick, it's exciting and watching the Minis weaving through LA is great fun. You can tell how much the actors enjoyed bombing around in the little cars.

It's definitely not a remake. Same title, same character name, same three little red, white and blue Minis and a heist but that's where the similarity ends. You can watch this and not squirm that Hollywood is shredding a classic film in the name of commercialism. Never once does Mark Wahlberg utter the immortal line "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off." And there's no agonising cliffhanger of an ending. The fact that it's virtually nothing like the original is a bonus - just pretend it's called The LA Job, sit back and enjoy.
Nicki, UK

It's a shame the ending wasn't good, but it at least the same can't be said for the rest of the film.
Adam, UK
Why couldn't they just re-release the original in America? Oh yeah, cause it's old, British, and not "cool" enough.

Although they have created something new with this rather than just a straight re-make, it's still a blow to the classic that they could (effectively) steal the title and premise, and claim to be doing it for the love of the original....

I can't wait for Nicolas Cage's destruction of The Wicker Man, set in the Deep South so that American audiences don't get bored by some uptight Scottish guy. And of course, he wants to do it because he's "such a big fan of the original".
Graeme, UK

This film just dragged. Unlike the 1969 version, it had the plot, the humour and of course the chase scene around Turin and the classic Quincy Jones' jazzy soundtrack. Not a very good film I'm afraid. Peter Collinson will be turning in his grave.
Gary Hunt, England

I actually saw this in the US back in July long before British critics started ripping it apart almost solely because was an American remake of a British film.

Nevertheless, I too still expected very little from this Hollywood version. I can only say I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's not a patch on the original, but it beats almost all the other summer blockbusters with its comparatively well-written script and stylish action sequences. It's a shame the ending wasn't good, but it at least the same can't be said for the rest of the film.
Adam, UK

I enjoyed this film a great deal and would love to see the original. I think I enjoyed the action sequences more than the blossoming romance between Charlize and Mark. However, all of the story had elements to make a good movie.
Erica-Hope, USA

Being a huge fan of the original I thought you cannot make a remake of a classic, but I was proved wrong. It was funny from start to finish but having said that there were no oneliners to complete the film.

Good job done but the original is still the best.
Louise Davies, UK

I admit that I watched it - but only because it was free on the international flight. I would've never paid to watch such drivel
Sandra, US
The original film is one of my favourites and I really hoped that they wouldn't try to make a remake - and they didn't. I saw this in the US in July and loved it, and I'll be seeing it again this week. Fantastic!
Jon, UK

I saw this film while I was in America earlier this year. I wasn't expecting much considering the poor reviews the film seemed to be getting while it was being made.

I have to say I really enjoyed it. There's very little connection or similarity with the original. The original is one of my all time favourite films.

See the film, don't try and draw comparisons with the original and you'll find it quite enjoyable. I will be buying it when it's out on DVD.
Adam Saunders, UK

I found that this film was highly predictable, the ending was a typical Hollywood unimaginative one, and the mini chase was very disappointing, and lacked the excitement of the original, no handbrakes, two wheels etc.... I know this was not a remake, but it borrowed a lot of scenes and ideas and unfortunately did so in a poor way. 4/10
Jimbo, UK

Oh lordy, I flew back to the states from Turkey and The Italian Job was on each flight. I admit that I watched it - but only because it was free on the international flight. I would've never paid to watch such drivel.

Sure, the action stunts were pretty good, but the lack of good acting and general direction made what could have been a half hour short into a 2 hour snoozefest. Quite honestly, much of the time it seemed the actors were rehearsing their parts for the first time - meaning they threw little into the roles and concentrated on reading their lines.
Sandra, US

I recommend seeing it, but punters expecting to compare it with the original will be in for a vast disappointment!
Bharat, UK
I saw the new version once, then went to see it twice more! I really thought it was loads of fun, though I do think that as I'm a mini-owner I'm a tad biased. Did hire the old version on vid to check out which one I really preferred, and hate to say it, but the original is looking rather dated (though you can't beat the music in the original). Think they did a really good job - recommend it.
Michele, Brit in LA, USA

Good, watchable and enjoyable film, even though the end chase involving the minis was somewhat less sophisticated than the original. But on the whole, I liked it ( especially a certain Miss Theron lighting up the screen!! ) and will certainly be buying it on DVD!!!
Keith, UK

Everyone still remembers the original Italian Job, but will people rememeber this one after 5 mins of leaving the cinema...I doubt it.
James Davine, UK

Being a fan of the original I feared the worst, however was pleasantly surprised to find that it's actually really good. Ok, Wahlberg is no Caine, but there is no attempt to make him like the original Charlie Croaker and I think this saves Wahlberg's blushes. All in all an enjoyable crime caper, lots of explosions, car cashes and cheesy gags. Good brain fodder for a Friday night.
Mark George, UK

Saw it on a flight, so the cinema experience was lacking. However, I found the film quite entertaining in its own right. The original Italian Job had more interesting characters, more imaginative action sequences and better dialogue. The new film does not get near it - however, this is not a criticism. I recommend seeing it, but punters expecting to compare it with the original will be in for a vast disappointment!
Bharat, UK

I liked the movie. It had references to the 60s version but with an updated overall appearance. I found it to be entertaining for the hour and a half and Ms Theron is always worth watching.
Peter Cusden, US

It's a piece of rubbish. I rushed home and watched the original three times just to get the painful memory of this "remake" erased from my mind forever
Robert Del Valle, USA
It was rubbish first time around. Why subject us to more of the same? Haven't film makers got any original ideas left?
Jo Pettitt, UK

I saw the film at an advance screening on Wednesday, and although sceptical at first I have to admit it was quite an enjoyable, if slightly predictable and mindless in places, film. I agree with Mr Korsner - forget about the British Italian Job of 69 and enjoy the film for what it's worth... and if that doesn't work, Miss Theron dresses the screen beautifully.
Garry, UK

If you forget the original, it stands up as well as any other recent Hollywood blockbuster has done this year (which doesn't say a great deal). Just think what it's going to do for the BMW's Mini waiting lists!
Greg, UK

Very, very enjoyable. Mos Def, Seth Johnson and Jason Statham steal the show. The cars are cool and the heist spectacular. Nothing like the original and all the better for it!!!
Kevin, Scotland

It's a piece of rubbish. I rushed home and watched the original three times just to get the painful memory of this "remake" erased from my mind forever. Can't you Brits pass a law or something to protect your masterpieces?
Robert del Valle, USA

The Italian Job is a classic, it will never work. That was my opinion until I saw the film. You can't re-make the Italian Job, but this is the perfect modern day equivalent, it has tension, humour, romance, great cars and great gadgets - give it a go.
Mini Driver, UK

OK, so it isn't the retro kick it could have been, and it is certainly a Hollywood production through and through, but if you forget about the original and take it at face value it's a good fun film with plenty of action. I recently bought a new Mini Cooper so I am totally biased but I think they stole the show here. And you'd be a fool not to bet on Charlize Theron becoming one of the leading ladies in tinsle town in the next few years. Her screen presence can't be described as mini at all!
Neil, England

Leave our films alone!
Peter Martin, UK
I saw The Italian Job in July on holiday and as an individual film it is great!!! However, as it is a 'remake' of the THE Italian Job the comparisons make the Hollywood version seem dull and a disappointment. But all in all, a top film!!!
Davie G, Scotland

I saw it last week on holiday in Cape Cod. I had no expectations - but really enjoyed it. There were no moments of boredom. The characters were just that - characters. Being a Brit living in the States - I had a particular liking for Handsome Rob. Would recommend this film to all.
Sarah, USA

I didn't see the remake of Get Carter and I won't see this either. Leave our films alone!
Peter Martin, UK

Really poor - a classic example where the whole is a bunch less than the sum of the parts. Even though the new version borrows very little from the original, fans of the 60s classic will be disappointed that not more of an effort was made to create something that had some of its charm. However, with the increasingly charisma-free Wahlberg as the lead it lacks any memorable moments, and it's difficult to really like any of the main characters. Jason Statham could have potentially done a job here, but was that ever going to happen with a Hollywood remake?
Alex, UK

I swore I would never watch this film, the original being one of my favourites. But I found myself on an 11 hour transatlantic flight, and it was on. Well, what was I going to do?

After the first 15 minutes I actually found myself liking it. The fact that they have not actually re-made it, but created a whole new story line saves it from ignamony. Handsome Ron is by far the best character, and I didn't even mind the corny name. The obligatory mini case was well done, but lacked the excitement of the original, and the end of the story was the only bit that disappointed. Typical Hollywood ending and predictable after the first 15 minutes. Out of 10? I think a good 7.5, while the original rated a good 9
Evil Edna, US




SEE ALSO:
Stars speed in for Italian Job
16 Sep 03  |  Entertainment
Return to Planet of the Apes
17 Aug 01  |  Entertainment
Law 'to reprise Alfie role'
09 Apr 03  |  Entertainment
Caine one-liner is favourite
09 Mar 03  |  Entertainment


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