Reborn In The USA
DIRECTED BY F Gary Gray
STARRING Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Donald Sutherland
Opens September 19, Cert 12A, 110 mins
First things first: this is not a remake of everyone's favourite career-defining Michael Caine flick. Apart from a brief in-jokey DVD clip of Caine as Charlie Croker and the climactic appearance of a trio of modern Mini Coopers, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Troy Kennedy Martin-scripted original. Most of it doesn't even take place in Italy.
So what is this curious heist flick—other than the waste of a rights payment for the title? Two hours of amiable, undemanding, brain-dead fun, that's what.
The unfailingly plank-like Marky Mark plays 2003's Charlie Croker, gifted protégé of master thief John Bridger (Sutherland). After pulling off a huge gold bullion score in Venice, Charlie's crew are double-crossed by their shifty colleague Steve (Norton), who executes Bridger and leaves the rest of the team for dead. One year later, Steve is enjoying the fruits of his betrayal as a shady multi-millionaire in Los Angeles, and Charlie's boys team up with Bridger's daughter, Stella (Theron), to exact their revenge by stealing back their ill-gotten gains.
And that's it. No sub-plot, no twists, no inspired genre-busting inversions à la Ocean's Eleven. Just a bunch of classic heist movie clichés assembled without fuss by F Gary Gray, a decent journeyman director. Sure, there are plenty of downsides to The Italian Job—the plot is heavy on improbable coincidence and the three lead performances are fucking rubbish. Wahlberg proves once again that his career is a crime against cinema, Theron looks good but is hopelessly overmatched by the emotional range her role calls for, and Norton delivers the most insincere, lazy, ill-thought-out performance of his entire career. Just one glimpse of his ridiculous moustache-twirling villain cries out "contractual obligation".
On the positive side, the supporting performances are great fun. Jason Statham, Seth Green and Mos Def all have a ball as Croker's bickering posse and their banter sparkles, as does the central act that, true to genre type, painstakingly sets up the improbable (but fun-filled) climax.
Most importantly, this movie doesn't piss all over the memory of the 1969 original. Which counts for a lot.
Rating: 3 / 10