16 May 2021 – The Italian Job and the other Italian Job

The original idea with these weekend blog posts was that they were supposed to be longer pieces of writing but they weren’t fully intended to be film based every time. What has developed in my mind is this idea that the Sunday posts are based on film projects. The problem there is that the size of projects can take up a huge amount of time. The Marvel films took me weeks to watch and that’s not sustainable every week. The Guy Ritchie films were a good sized project in terms of the amount of prep I can put in and the amount of content I can put together about each film. So my approach now is that I have a number of large scale projects ongoing at the same time and in the meantime I’m also looking for smaller projects that seem interesting to me.

During the week, I watched “The Italian Job”(2003). It was not very good. It was bad to the point where I started to wonder why it was made. By the time it was over, I had made up my mind that good actors sometimes get roped into making bad remakes/sequels/reworks of old films because of nostalgia for the original. That made sense to me. “The Italian Job”(2003) made no sense to me. It’s not a real remake. It’s not a sequel. It’s just a heist film about stealing gold in Mini Coopers. There are some of the same names. At one point they even reference the original. It’s just a conceptual nightmare. The execution isn’t even that bad. If the film had a different name it would be acceptably forgettable. It probably wouldn’t have got the budget though. To be fair the action scenes and the car chase looked pretty decent so fair play to them for that.

The cast is peak 2003. Mark Wahlberg is a lame leading man. He pushed the plot forward but he’s just lame. I don’t fully understand the idea of romance between his character and Charlize Theron. Her father was like a father to him so that seems fairly suspect. If Seth Green’s character were around today he would be MeToo’d. Ed Norton is a pantomime villain and has criminal facial hair. He was the real mystery to me. I didn’t get why he was there and the only rational reason I could think of was that maybe he liked the original.

I really liked the original when I was a little kid and so I decided to rewatch it to see if that was enough to justify the 2003 effort. It’s probably not. “The Italian Job”(1969) is a very strange film. Very British. Very shouty. Very problematic. It hasn’t aged particularly well. The worst thing about the new version is that it makes the driving in the old one look very shitty. The car chase is pedestrian and slow and at times very pointless. Lots of the iconic scenes, like the Minis driving on to the roof of the stadium for example, are completely pointless in terms of the chase. It’s fun and cartoonish though. It makes sense that that appealed to me as a child. Any violence happens off screen. At one point, the silhouette of Michael Caine’s character gets beaten up behind smoked glass. Someone dies in a car crash in a tunnel in the dark.

It has aged terribly though and not in ways I thought about as an eight year old. Benny Hill’s appearance as a computers expert who doesn’t seem to be the full deck and has a compulsion to sexually harass larger women, is an absolute nightmare. The most unpleasant thing in the film is Michael Caine’s Charlie Croker’s threat to the mafia if he was killed. You can see it in this clip. The whole film is so pro Britain in general, that the threat of driving Italian immigrants in Britain into the sea and making them suffer made me very uneasy.

So I watched both and, to be totally honest, I could probably do with having watched neither of them. The motivation behind remaking films is an interesting idea and it makes sense to compare new and old versions. Both versions of “The Italian Job” are pretty trash. Having watched the original, I wasn’t any wiser on why Ed Norton would attach himself to the new film. It didn’t justify any real feeling of nostalgia. Then, as I sat down to write this, I did a bit of reading and it all makes sense. Ed Norton was forced to make the film due to a multi picture contract with Paramount. He didn’t want to be in the film and refused to promote it. I feel at ease in the world once more, safe in the knowledge that money is the real motivator.

16 May 2021 – The Italian Job and the other Italian Job