leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh
Colorful crooks steal $35,000,000, lose it to a crooked confederate and cook up a crackerjack plan to get back the loot in this pumped up remake of the larky 1969 caper picture, best remembered for its shagadelic fashions, Mini car stunts and flat-out bizarre casting: Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill, anyone? Aging gentleman bandit John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) is ready to hang up his lock picks and spend his remaining years getting to know his daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron), whose childhood he missed by being perpetually behind bars. Bridger has taught surrogate son Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg) all he knows about setting up a job and agrees to join Croker and his crew computer-whiz Lyle (Seth Green), driver Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), demolition expert Left Ear (Mos Def) and inside man Steve (Edward Norton) for one last heist. The robbery is a work of art, but the getaway is a killer. They steal a state-of-the-art safe from a Venetian villa crawling with crooks, then misdirect both guards and police while Bridger cracks the lock and liberates a fortune in distinctively marked gold bars. But traitorous Steve his weasely mustache should have been a tip-off shows up at the post-robbery rendezvous with his own agenda: He shoots Bridger, leaves the rest for dead and makes off with the loot. One year later, Charlie has tracked Steve to Los Angeles and formulated a plan to retrieve the money and punish Steve. It takes a while to recruit Stella, who's inherited her father's safecracking skills without his larcenous inclinations, but once she's aboard the plan is a go: Steve's payback will be a variation on the Italian job, with three nimble Mini Coopers standing in for speedboats in the daredevil getaway. The original ITALIAN JOB was primarily an excuse to show off the mod cast and the Mini Coopers, then riding a wave of swinging-'60s popularity that made them accessories as desirable as gogo boots and Mary Quant lipstick. This version moves like a freight train, but suffers from a debilitating charm deficit. Wahlberg is no Michael Caine and Norton delivers what must be the sourest, most lifeless performance of his career to date, perhaps because he was forced to take the role on the strength of a years-old contractual agreement. And really, when a pint-sized automobile has more sex appeal than Charlize Theron, something is seriously out of whack.