It’s hard to make a good heist/action film, as evidenced by the flurry of
bad films in that genre released since “DIE HARD” days. However, every now and then, one surfaces. Even while “OCEANS’ ELEVEN” was a remake, it actually improved upon the original, and ultimately succeeded as
great entertainment. "THE ITALIAN JOB” is a remake as well, however, the
original wasn’t bad at all(unlike the original “OCEANS ELEVEN”), and both are being released separately on dvd or as a two-pack for viewers to compare.
The film opens with a taught robbery and chase scene involving fast
boats. The opening sequence and character exposition is crafted well enough to impress even the most discerning filmgoer. It’s obvious, almost
immediately, that this film isn’t a dumb action thriller, instead, it has
character depth and a well conceived plot. Following the successful
robbery, when all of the thieves discuss their dreams of how to spend
the loot, one of them, the lone backstabber, “Steve”(Ed Norton) kills the
leader and leaves the others for dead, after stealing the entire loot. This
too is a terrific scene, as are almost all that follow.
The film cuts to a year later, and all of the surviving team is bent
on getting revenge. The best way to hurt someone like Steve is to steal
what he’s taken, so that’s what these guys(and the daughter of the
murdered leader)decide to do. They concoct a complex, intricate and ingenious plan to get at the millions he’s stolen and has already taken “almost” fool-proof measures to protect.
“THE ITALIAN JOB” is a great film for many reasons, but a lot of it has to do with the ensemble cast. Everyone here is at their best. Even the smallest supporting role has a sense of depth. Nothing in a high-tech robbery/action film feeling like a cliché’? That’s a rarity, but it’s the case here!
PARAMOUNT has preserved the film’s 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9
enhancement. It’s a slick image, well polished with rich and vibrant
colors in most scenes. There’s terrific detail and contrast is flawless,
offering great clarity in darker moments. Fleshtones appear natural.
Director F. Gary Gray has always shown an interest in shoring up the
tension to scenes with creative soundmixes(Negotiator, Set It Off) and the
one here is no exception. While most separation is found in the front, there
are still plenty of panning/directional effects for the rear and bass(.1LFE)
effects come in handy when utilized during key moments. Dialogue is
always intelligible and free from distortion.
Along with the original theatrical trailer for the film, there are plenty of extras here too. Featurettes offer behind-the-scenes footage as well as
explore how various stunts were conceived and accomplished. There is
also a deleted scenes section, offering six scenes, a few of which actually
add to the film’s narrative, but would’ve slowed down the overall pacing.