The 2003 version of The Italian Job is less of a straightforward remake of the 1969 picture than it is a complete re-interpretation. Enough has changed that it's possible to see the two films not as the same story separated by three decades, but a distinct entities. Expectedly, there are plot similarities (the centerpiece heist contains many of the same elements, including the minis), but the chemistry and motivations of the thieves is different, and the playful, semi-comedic tone of the original has been replaced by something a little less lighthearted.
It's easy to do a heist movie wrong – the genre is littered with countless examples, some by prominent filmmakers. F. Gary Gray (director of the recently released A Man Apart) has discovered the right recipe – keep things moving, develop a nice rapport between the leads, toss in the occasional surprise, and top with a sprinkling of panache. The Italian Job isn't a masterpiece, but it gets the job done. There are some problems (in particular, the climactic car chase – the one featuring the minis – goes on a little too long), but, for the most part, I was entertained. There's a fair amount of suspense, and I was generally impressed by the thoroughness of the caper plots.
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