DXMachina (dxmachina) wrote,

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The Italian Jobs

Saw The Italian Job with Ellen and theodosia last night. That wasn't the original plan. We were supposed to go see Bend It Like Beckham after having a quick dinner in Davis Square. It turned out to be not so quick. The place prides itself on cooking things to order, but that means it takes longer than usual, and certainly more time than we had alloted. Plus they completely screwed up Theo's meal, so she wound up with nothing to eat at all. Not recommended.

Theo had seen Beckham already, and none of us had seen The Italian Job, which had a later start, so that's what we did. I'd been avoiding TIJ because of my feelings towards the original Michael Caine version.

The original is a wonderful film for 95 minutes. Unfortunately, it is 96 minutes long. Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) is a hardluck thief who comes up with a brilliant plan to swipe a huge amount of gold from a bank in Turin. The thieves make their escape by driving three gold-laden Minis through the sidewalks and sewers of Turin while their computer genius teammate (Benny Hill) creates a gridlock throughout the city by hacking into the traffic control grid, changing traffic signals as needed. The chase is one of the best of all time. The whole plan is being monitored in prison by the head of the British syndicate, Mr. Bridger (Noel Coward!), whose permission Charlie had to beg to be allowed to make the attempt.

As I said, it's a wonderful caper for 95 minutes. They transfer the gold from the Minis to a large motorhome, and head off into the Alps to spend their money. Where they have a traffic accident that leaves the motorhome hanging over the edge of a cliff, with everybody afraid to move for fear that it will topple over. Cue credits. Yup, that's how they end it, with a cliffhanger. I guess they thought it was funny. I never did.

The new version basically starts with the Italian caper. It's in Venice, instead of Turin, and they use speedboats instead of Minis, but twenty minutes into the film they're already in the Alps celebrating. Charlie (Mark Wahlberg) has pulled off the perfect heist of $35M in gold with the help of his mentor, John Bridger (Donald Sutherland), and his crew. Except one of the crew betrays them, killing Bridger, and the rest of the crew (he thinks). The rest of the film is the story of Charlie's plan to get revenge by stealing back the gold. They take both the escape chase using the Minis and the hacking of the traffic grid from the original film, and drop them into Hollywood. The hunted discovers the plan and the plot starts to twist. And there is no cliffhanger at the end. (Yay!)

The new version turned out to be great fun. There are a couple of huge logic holes, but the action is so fast that you're past them before you can think about it. It's only on the ride home that you say, "Waitaminnit..." (The bad guy may be the dumbest criminal mastermind since Wile E. Coyote. OTOH, the good guys help him out by doing something really stupid a one point.) Seth Green has the Benny Hill part, and all the actors are fun to watch. Certainly worth a look. As is the old version, at least for the first 95 minutes.

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