The Italian Job (2003) Review

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If you’re going to steal $35 million worth of gold bars, where are you going to sell it? Surely someone will be on the look out for it, good or bad, and completing a transaction of that size is going to gain some attention. That’s not just a problem with the 2003 remake of the 1969 Michael Caine film The Italian Job, but heist movies in general.

What a great heist movie is able to do is ignore this quirk (or find an explanation) and engage the audience. That’s what this star-filled remake is able to do. The loaded cast, comprised of Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Mos Def, Ed Norton, and Seth Green are obviously having fun with their respective roles. Their characters, while fairly straightforward and underdeveloped, are wonderful on-screen together, and maintain a chemistry throughout that makes you believe they could pull this off.

Obviously the real stars are the Mini Coopers, and despite being a blatant product placement (amongst others), they’re loads of fun to watch. Careening through city streets, subways, and sewer systems, the driving stunt work is masterful, and well directed by F. Gary Gray. The chases could have been 10 minutes longer and no one would have complained.

Italian Job moves at a brisk pace, and doesn’t even feel close to its 110 minute runtime. Seth Green steals a number of dialogue driven scenes as a computer hacker who claims to have created Napster, and Ed Norton is a great villain.

Remakes are touchy things, but Italian Job is able to overcome any preconceived notions, and win over the audience with a colorful cast put inside plenty of engaging action. The heist is fun, the pacing is perfect, and you’ll laugh all the way through.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

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Italian Job was an early HD DVD release from Paramount, and this Blu-ray sadly shares the same lackluster encode. Print damage and dirt from a 2003 film is a disappointment, and the minor specks are a distraction here. A significant layer of edge enhancement is constantly detectable, and does little to help the sub-par sharpness level.

Detail is flat, and the contrast is decidedly mid-range. Black levels are weak and fail to create depth. Some noise is noticeable early on in the sky, and the film grain causes some noticeable artifacting. Flesh tones are unnatural, and the color fails to impress. This is a weak MPEG-2 encode that makes you wish for a better re-release down the road.

Video ★★☆☆☆ 

Despite the case stating a DTS track, rest assured the disc only contains a compressed Dolby Digital mix. It’s a decent audio mix, with active surrounds and a fine low end. However, separation is lackluster, and the rears tend to blend during heavy action. The stereo channels likewise have the same problem. The final chase is impressive, but last generation.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Extras are brief, with five featurettes focusing on stunts, driving, the cars, writing the script, and basic behind-the-scenes info. Six deleted scenes, with VHS level video quality, run shy of nine minutes. A couple of trailers are included as well.

Extras ★★☆☆☆ 

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