Welcome to Jalopnik Movie Club, where we take a look at cars in movies and movies about cars, and you write in with all of your hot takes. This week, we’re reviewing the boring 2003 remake of The Italian Job, a movie that strips most of the style, flair and humor away from the original and replaces it with Marky Mark.
Where the original 1969 The Italian Job was undoubtedly a movie made as an excuse to have fun with some incredible cars and pull off some ridiculous stunts, the 2003 remake was a movie made to rip off from the success of 2001's Ocean’s 11 and sell the new big Mini.
We have a lot of takes about the Mini, if you hadn’t noticed.
The remake includes some critical changes over the original movie, moving the actual con job in Italy to the very beginning of the movie, and having its consequences be the motivation for the big con during the finale. It’s a fine change to the story, except the finale takes place in Los Angeles, which lacks all of the charm, vibrance and excitement of the original setting.
It’s like the filmmakers were instructed to base a movie called The Italian Job on Ocean’s 11 and include the new Mini. This is OK, because I like the Ocean’s franchise, and I like Minis. I like this movie more if I pretend that Charlize Theron is intended to be the main character, and not Mark Whalberg, in what is certainly the most modest and boring role he’s ever taken. Jason Statham’s The Transporter as Handsome Rob should have been Charlie Croker. This oversight is upsetting.
Marky Mark’s Charlie Croker just stands around and agrees with what everyone else comes up with, and then smiles. Everything that impressed viewers in the original—the campy humor, groovy music and ridiculous stunts and set pieces—is largely absent from this remake.
It’s all replaced with dry wit, flashy montages and driving sequences that are chopped up and zoomed in too much. Just zoom out! The Bourne Identity had a better car chase with a Mini. There’s no genuinely striking set piece that even comes close to the original’s Lamborghini opening, vibrant streetside, factory roof, wedding ceremony or cliffhanger finale.
The bad guy, literally just a white dude named Steve, is played by Edward Norton, who is just being the Los Angeles asshole he is in his daily life, except with horrible facial hair. The subplot concerning the mob seems to only be a confused interpretation of the mafia from the original.
I would say this movie was just fine, but the characters’ definition for fine in the movie is freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional, and none of those exciting and interesting words relate to this movie in any way.
The 2003 The Italian Job is as soulless and unremarkable as its Hollywood setting, but it’s still interesting enough to mildly entertain, and it does make me go look up what the first new generation Mini goes for these days. So it passes the key requirement of any good advertisement. I also used to love watching this movie when I was younger, but I didn’t remember it being this slow and unexciting.
That’s all from me, now let’s hear from those of you that emailed with your thoughts, opinions and hot takes about the forgettable remake of The Italian Job:
Marky Mark Edition
I remember seeing this movie right when it came out in 2003. I loved it! This movie made me want a mini as my first car (never happened). I love the opening scene, the cast (MOS DEF) and of course the final car chase.
Also, shout out to skinny Pete...
baby go relax!
In this movie we see the following: Jason Statham wheels a Boston Whaler Outrage, Seth Green crashes a Ducati 748, and Edward Norton hijacks a Ford Bronco.
It’s best not to compare this movie to the original Italian Job. Although the 2003 film of the same name features certain homage in character usage, it is of different style, purpose and character. It is rather derivative of Hollywood movies and a rather staple action and revenge plot which has become a staple of Mark Wahlberg lead movies. It’s certainly not revolutionary but it’s not repellent either.
To argue the irony of this movie is that the meat of story comes from the aftermath of the heist in Venice, and putting the films locale mostly in the USA with the majority in LA. I suppose the setting jives with the plot homage to the Turin traffic despite the different play. Additionally, its linearity creates a rather predictable story that is redeemed by the progression of it at a fairly fast clip.
Like the original it does feature a highly diverse amount of vehicles. Unlike the original these vehicles do not share the spotlight with the highlighted new MINIs and Stellas’ original. The only other colorful vehicle is the dropped yellow Ducati, the rest are black, white, drab or de-contrasted color. Do you remember seeing the 360 Spider, 996 Turbo and 550 Maranello in Wrenchs’ garage? No? I don’t blame you when they were titanium and black and quickly panned over.
I would’ve loved to say that this was a clever marketing ploy for the re-launch of MINI, and perhaps to an extent it did have this effect. However it does go beyond that to extent that it deserves more recognition. Like most popcorn films it’s best not to pick apart the diegesis but to simply enjoy the films ridiculous moments. By no means does it “blow the bloody doors off’, but it has a place as a fun, fast film that breaks the floor enjoyably.
Movie: The salute to the original Italian Job is an average heist film with action, thriller with a side of comedy earns a C+.
Car Movie: As with the original, a highly diverse amount of machinery is employed and plays crucial roles in the heists and stunts. Unfortunately most of the vehicles are rather generic leading to an emphasis on the MINIs. It earns a B.
The original Italian Job was a real treat. I enjoy it immensely. (And ain’t even mad that the third episode of the original MacGyver series borrowed footage from it.) The cliffhanger ending - excellent.
Unfortunately the remake was all show and no go. Ed Norton COMPLETELY phones it in. It was a cheap BMW commercial in the same vein as the Z3 product placement in the 007 flick GoldenEye.
Some clever getaway stuff but Seth Green’s Napster character and Norton’s molester ‘stache just make it unbearable.
A Charlie Croker for the new millennium
It’s difficult not to compare and contrast the 1969 Italian Job with this 2003 version but I’m glad y’all assigned it like that. Watching the 1969 Italian Job, there were so many moments where I said to myself, “Yup, that wouldn’t fly today” and “Ha, can you imagine if someone had the balls to pull off those scenes in 2018.” Understanding that that was then and this is now, what a breath of fresh air this movie was in comparison. Hats off to F. Gary Gray for bringing this Charlie Croker into the new millennium.
First, whereas 1969 Charlie Croker continues on with his life of crime 2003 Charlie Croker realizes that this lifestyle has consequences. He learns that in the beginning when John Bridger, his mentor, teaches him that years in jail sucks. Also, John dies as a result of his life. The heist to take back what was once there’s is more about setting the past right as principal then the money itself.
Then there’s how Charlie Croker is more of a team player this time around. This Charlie Croker relies on the specific skill set of his team to see his plan to completion. Noteworthy is how Stella Bridger, played by Charlize Theron, is lowkey the star of the film. Charlie relies on her to get the heist team out of sticky situations (e.g. playing a cable employee at a moment’s notice and cracking a totally different safe when they didn’t plan to.) F. Gary Gray didn’t even stick Charlie Croker in the faster supercharged Mini, Stella got to drive that one.
Finally, this Charlie Croker isn’t Peter Collinson’s philandering swinger but an equal opportunity leader. Watching this Charlie Croker just seemed more natural. Yea, of course, they’d cast a beauty like Charlize Theron but F. Gary Gray was sure to keep the sexual tension to a minimum. It’s unnecessary in this purely entertaining heist film. The ones starting off any innuendo are the baddies.
Perhaps if I was living in the late 60's, the original Italian Job would be no big deal. Thankfully this remake gives me a Charlie Croker I’m fine with (no reference to the movie intended.)
TwinCharged S4 - Is Now UK Opponaut
Unlike most internet commentators, I happen to love the ‘03 Italian Job remake - on one hand because of the new BMW MINIs, and also because it doesn’t follow and copy the original movie scene by scene. In fact, it was the movie that made me force my parents to buy a MINI - twice. For those of us who saw (and loved!) the original, the big plot twist of Steve’s betrayal at the beginning of the film was key to telling audiences that this movie was immediately something different. And that was the key idea that stopped the remake from becoming a horrible modern take on the ‘69 Italian Job - it was different. And it interestingly, it knew it was different.
There’s a distinctly meta scene, after Stella’s date with Steve, when the crew discovers Steve is moving the gold. Charlie realises they have to intercept the gold en route, that they will “do it like The Italian Job”. That very statement implies that the movie is not an wholly oblivious copy of the original for people who never watched the original, but a rather acknowledging the original as something to take faithful inspiration from. I personally believe this is what made the ‘03 film unique in its own right (and not because it sucked!).
As for the bits we all recognise, i.e. the MINIs, there’s tons of trivia to be said. For instance, the obvious - while all three MINIs were coloured the same as the Minis in the ‘69 original, they weren’t all the same model. Rob’s and Charlie’s MINIs, the white and blue, were normal Coopers. Stella’s red MINI was a Cooper S - you can even hear the supercharger whine throughout the driving scenes.
Another useless bit of continuity error trivia was in the shakedown scene in the LA storm drain after the MINIs had their weight stripped. While that scene was pre-heist, both Charlie’s and Rob’s MINI bear the battle scars obtained during the chase later.
Oh, and some production trivia. For the subway scenes, three of the Minis used for filming were converted to run on electricity, as combustion engines were forbidden in the subway tunnels.
And that wraps it up for this week’s Jalopnik Movie Club review! Thank you to everyone who wrote in with their takes, which I encourage you all to do for next week!
Speaking of next week, we’ll be reviewing last year’s Logan Lucky, which is currently available on Amazon Prime, so be sure to get it watched and collect your thoughts, and write in with your opinions and hot takes to Justin at jalopnik dot com, formatted something like this:
Subject: Jalopnik Movie Club
Body: [Your Kinja username if you have one!]
[Your hot movie take!]
[A movie suggestion for a future review!]
In the meantime, sound off below about the good and bad of the remake of The Italian Job and all of its serious coolness, and see you all next week!