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Film / The Italian Job (2003)

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For the original 1969 film, see here.

The 2003 remake of The Italian Job was directed by F. Gary Gray and stars Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Jason Statham, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland.

This film follows a motley crew of thieves who plan to steal gold from a former associate who double-crossed them. Despite the shared title, the plot and characters of this film differ from those of its source material, the 1969 British film; Gray described the film as "an homage to the original."

A sequel, The Brazilian Job, was reportedly been in development starting in 2004, but never escaped Development Hell. It is said that it was repurposed as Fast Five, the fifth film of The Fast and the Furious film series; interestingly, Gray would later direct the eighth film of the series, The Fate of the Furious, in which Theron and Statham also appear.

This film contains the following tropes:

  • Accidental Pervert: Charlie walks in on Stella when she's in her underwear. While she's practicing cracking a safe.
  • Anti-Hero Team: The protagonists (sans Stella, a civilian) are very much professional thieves who at the start of the film are stealing for the riches. When Steve turns on them and kills their mentor, the team decides to steal their gold back while getting Steve to pay on a more personal level.
  • Armed Blag: The final heist involves targeting a safe inside a moving armored truck.
  • Artifact Title: Most of the movie takes place in Los Angeles, but it's all set into motion by The Job they did in Italy.
  • Artistic License – Cars: After Wrench modifies the cars, he and Charlie are walking past a shelf filled with what Wrench describes as "unnecessary engine parts". On that shelf are three exhaust headers and three crankshafts (along with many other parts) which are absolutely necessary for an engine to run.
    • Then again, those components might be spares Wrench brought along in case and he just means they're unnecessary in that he doesn't need to use them at this point.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The final heist in the movie is a 20-minute long application of this trope. The armored truck starts at Yucca and Vine,note  then appears a mile away and turns twicenote  through Hollywood and Highland. It then goes west past Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Mini Coopers drive off, and the van stops in front of the Chinese Theater again before the street collapses. Learning that the subway tunnel is blocked, Steve sends his men to Figureoa and 11th, which is nine miles away in Downtown Los Angeles. Charlie's team then drives 8 miles through the storm drain to the L.A. River,note  emerges at the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area,note  then go past Staples Centernote . Finally, after Steve loses his helicopter, he chases Charlie to Union Station by going west on Arcadia Street, even though Union Station is immediately behind them.note 
    • When the Minis are going down into the underground tunnels, they're supposedly at the Hollywood and Highland station. In reality, they are at the 7th and Metro station, stationed in Downtown Los Angeles, based on the fact that the Minis jump into the tunnel in front of a Blue Line train (the Hollywood station only services the Red Line).
  • Artistic License – Physics: During the planning stages, the crew decides on using MINI Coopers because they fit in the hallways of Steve's house. The cars would fit, but they certainly wouldn't be able to turn the 90 degree corners.
  • Badass Pacifist: The team takes a certain pride in the fact that they pull off the titular heist without ever touching a firearm. The only time the protagonists fire a gun is a tear gas launcher that Handsome Rob uses on the armored car guards.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The protagonists are thieves, and not the "Robin Hood" kind, either (although we learn nothing about the original owners of the gold beyond that they were a married couple with a young daughter). However, Steve is a brutal thug with no sense of loyalty who casually murders friend and stranger to get what he wants.
  • Boring Insult: Steve is accused of having no imagination after stealing the gold, having spent it on all the things everyone else had said they would buy with their shares, and having had no better plan for said theft than getting some goons and waving a gun on the team's faces.
  • The Cameo: Well, not quite. Steve is watching The Italian Job on DVD, but all we ever see is a part of Michael Caine so they wouldn't have to pay royalties by showing his face.
    • Also, that really was the creator of Napster playing himself stealing the idea from Lyle in college.
  • Caper Rationalization: "You know it was never about the gold, right?" The gang all acknowledge that they're very emotional about avenging John Bridger's death in going after Steve.
  • The Charmer: Handsome Rob.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The oxygen tanks and scuba gear they use in the opening heist saves the team's lives when their van falls off the bridge into icy water.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Yevhen, the talkative jewelry store owner Steve is using to move the gold, first mentions his cousin well before it's obvious that the man is a powerful crime boss.
  • City of Canals: The titular caper is pulled off in Venice at the beginning of the movie.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Steve begs the Ukrainian crime boss not to shoot him. He doesn't intend to. Instead, he plans to show Steve the wonderful tools at his garage...
  • Cool Car: The Aston Martin Vanquish that Handsome Rob plans to buy and that Steve does buy after he steals the money and kills Bridger.
  • Creative Sterility: Steve’s Fatal Flaw, as pointed out by Charlie (“No imagination”). Despite considering himself a master criminal, his plans always resort to either force or paranoid defense, and his one good idea throughout the film is easily figured out by the team. Ultimately, he always takes the easy or safe route, which leaves him incapable of effectively responding to Charlie’s sheer audacity and cunning.
  • The Crime Job: Not only the movie itself, but also its planned sequel The Brazilian Job.
  • Dead Star Walking: Donald Sutherland is only in the opening heist before Steve betrays the team and kills him.
  • Decoy Convoy: Steve uses three identical convoys of armored trucks with motorcycle escorts to hide the gold while it's moved to a more secure location. Lyle is able to figure out which one has the gold by seeing which one is weighed down since $27 million in gold is heavy.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: "Cable Guy Infiltration" variant. After the men recruit Stella, they set up a plan to infiltrate Steve's house. Handsome Rob first steals a cable company van by flirting with one of their employees, while Left Ear tampers with the cable box so that Steve's TV and modem will not work and Steve will be forced to call to set up an appointment. Once Steve's gate guard calls the cable company, Charlie calls back a moment later "claiming" that a technician of theirs has finished up on a call in the area and can make a quick detour. Stella drives in minutes later in the obtained work van, and using the name "Becky" (the name of the actual employee whose shirt Handsome Rob stole), she wears a mini-video camera disguised as a flag pin to allow the men to map up the house layout. When it's time for her to leave, Left Ear reconnects the cables that he pulled out to prompt Steve's call.
  • Double Caper: The titular "Italian job" (and actually called such by the characters) is the caper that opens the movie. The rest of it involves taking back the gold from traitorous member Steve and getting revenge for the death of John Bridger.
  • Down L.A. Drain: The film has the heroes driving through the viaducts in Mini Coopers as part of their getaway.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe. Handsome Rob once took a stolen car across the country just so he could set the world record for longest freeway chase. He got legions of fangirls who sent fanmail to his jail cell.
  • The Dreaded: Steve, Skinny Pete, and Charlie's crew are all tough people. And they are all terrified of the Ukrainians.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Yehven, Steve's fence, tosses gold trivia at Steve as they are negotiating the sale of a couple of bars… and Yehven mentions the history of the bars he is currently holding (with a dancer sigil on them) and that he heard of the Italian job. He noticeably hesitates when he reaches that part of the story, showing he finally figured it out, and his reaction becomes even more justified when Steve blows him away about a second later.
  • Everything Is Online: Hacking the traffic light system of an entire city to cause a gridlock? Check. However, as Cracked points out, this is actually doable, though the extreme to which Lyle goes probably isn't.
  • Fruit Boat: During the opening heist, a pursuing boat accidentally drives up another boat, is launched into the air, and lands in one.
  • Gag Dub: Lyle (Seth Green) does this while Handsome Rob (Jason Statham) chats up a young woman with the aim of seducing her and getting her ID card. Bonus points in that Seth Green improv'd his dialogue.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: C'mon, you knew Steve was a traitor just from that moustache-and-ratty-goatee combo alone.
  • Hack the Traffic Lights: Lyle creates a city-wide gridlock to control the green lights for their escape route.
  • Hate Sink: Steve Frazelli is a petty and smug member of John Bridger’s team of thieves who kills John, betrays and nearly kills the team and steals their haul of $35 million in gold bricks for himself just because "I wanted it". Arrogant and volatile, Steve also not knowing what he himself wants to do with all that gold uses about 8 million of it to mostly buy things other members of the team wanted instead. He blows away Yevhen, his fence, when he accidentally figures out the origin of the gold. Eventually, Charlie Croker and the rest of the team hand Steve over to Ukrainian mob boss Mashkov who intends to make Steve deservedly suffer as he kills him.
  • He Knows Too Much: Yevhen, while rambling about gold usage throughout history, stumbles upon the source of the gold Steve's been fencing through his shop. Steve kills him for it. Unfortunately, Yevhen is part of a local Ukrainian crime syndicate, which comes back to bite everyone later. Charlie deals with it easily enough; offering a share of the gold if they'll hide in earshot when Steve enters the train car, upon which Charlie will attempt an Engineered Public Confession. He pulls it off, and Steve is dragged to his fate by dozens of Ukrainians with SMGs to his one handgun.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Stella, played by Statuesque Stunner Charlize Theron, predictably inspires this reaction from almost every male character she comes across.
  • Heel Realization: Bridger appears to have had one before the film began, as he talks to Charlie about how he regrets that his lifestyle prevented him from being a father to Stella and expressed a desire to make up for that before his death.
  • Helicopter Blender: Steve attempts this against Charlie, who's in a Mini, using the tail rotor. Charlie just barely manages to scrape by, but the rotor is ruined by the attempt and the helicopter is grounded, forcing Steve to jack a car to continue the chase.
  • Historical In-Joke: Lyle was the real inventor of Napster, but Shawn Fanning was his roommate and stole his idea while he was napping at his computer.
  • Hollywood Density: Discussed Trope. They have to specially modify the cars to be able to handle the weight of the gold. Also, when the gold is being taken out of Steve's mansion, Lyle is able to figure out which of the three armored cars contains the gold because it's riding significantly lower than the decoys because of the weight of $27 million in gold bricks.
  • Impossible Mission Collapse: The original plan to storm Steve's mansion gets foiled by a cocktail party right across the street from the mansion's entrance, risking an awful lot of witnesses.
  • In Name Only: There is a theft in the movie that is actually called "the Italian job" by the characters. And Minis. And characters named "Charlie Croker" and "Bridger". Aside from that, yeah, everything's different.
  • Instant Seduction: Handsome Rob flirting with a cable girl so he can get her shirt and her truck to give to Stella so she can infiltrate Steve's house. Lyle tries to get an idea of what the conversation's going like by acting out both sides.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Charlie tells Stella that the reason he punched Steve instead of letting her do so is because her hands were too valuable. It's obvious that there are other reasons as well, but since he did in fact hurt his own hand, the explanation is good enough for them to let it go for the moment.
  • Ironic Nickname: Skinny Pete is actually quite obese.
  • It's Personal: While they all have an axe to grind with Steve, who tried to kill the team for the gold, Charlie and Stella are personally fueled by the murder of John, who was/was like a father to both.
  • Jerkass: Steve has absolutely zero redeeming qualities.
  • Lack of Imagination: This is Steve's (the movie's Big Bad) flaw, as while he managed to pull out swiping the gold from his fellow thieves and nearly killed them, his plan was simply to have a lot of goons with guns on his side. When he used the money, all he did was just mimic what everyone else had intended to use their share for. Charlie points this out to him, point blank telling him he has "no imagination" when finally confronting him face to face and citing that his brash actions ultimately make him panic when things don't go his way that he can't improvise on the fly. This is shown at the end where he's ultimately outgambited by Charlie's more creative heist to steal the gold from him and have a backup plan in case Steve manages to catch up (a plan that Steve himself unwittingly set up when he murdered a cousin of a very dangerous Ukranian mobster).
  • Like a Son to Me: Charlie's relationship with John. Stella even notes that Charlie had a much closer relationship with her father than she did, although Charlie assures her that John regretted that he wasn't a better father to her.
  • The Mafiya: The Ukrainians.
  • Mission Control: Lyle, especially during the end chase.
  • Model Planning: The thieves build a replica practice course in a warehouse to practice driving their escape route, and also have a CGI animation on their computer of the car as if it were traversing the actual route in real time for no apparent reason.
    • And then it turns out to be a "Shaggy Dog" Story when Steve alters his plans and so do they.
  • Noodle Incident: Left Ear hates dogs.
    Left Ear: This dude got dogs. I don't do dogs. I had a real bad experience, man.
    Charlie: What happened?
    Left Ear: I had a bad experience. Dammit, I'm deaf.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: The majority of the plot happens because of Steve being a backstabbing bastard who waited until the Italian Job was officially accomplished before stealing the gold and trying to kill the crew.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: Charlie walks in on Stella in her underwear and looks away so she can get dressed, but briefly tries to get a peek until she yells, "Don't look!"
  • Non-Indicative Name: The titular Italian Job is pulled off in the first 20 minutes, and then the entire rest of the movie takes place in the United States.
  • Oh, Crap!: Steve is justifiably panicked, unraveled, and helpless when the Ukranian gangster whose cousin he killed shows up to take revenge on him and refuses to be bought off.
  • Plan B Resolution: Charlie and his crew initially attempted to infiltrate Steve's mansion and steal back the gold while he's out waiting for a date with Stella, but were forced to abort when they discover Steve's neighbors are throwing a party. Stella goes on the date to inspire a second one, but gives herself away. This leads to the climactic plan to make an unholy traffic jam in L.A. and lead the armored car with the gold to a location where they can raid it.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: When arguing against a shootout with armed guards, Handsome Rob doesn't argue morality. He just says "We'd lose." Fortunately, Charlie has another plan.
  • Precision F-Strike: Steve when his armored truck is dropped into the subway tunnels.
    Steve: What the FUCK happened to my truck?!
  • Product Placement: The Minis are the stars, sure, but while Stella drives an old one early in the movie (which almost could be considered a Mythology Gag), the climactic heist sees the use of then-recent models that see a lot of action.
    • The cover when sinking the gold down to the subway tracks involves using a giant Pepsi Blue sign to disguise the hole when Steve's sightline is obscured.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: People complained that hacking a traffic light system like in the film was highly improbable, turns out it IS quite possible in real life.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Steve gets a couple of these from Charlie, mostly focused on Charlie making it clear that Steve lacks imagination to the extent of only using the gold to buy what everyone else wanted rather than having any independent plans for it himself.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Charlie’s Plan B to get to the truck carrying the gold is to “Boost it in transit.” And by that, he means blow a hole in the street underneath it and drop it into the subway. It works.
  • Reluctant Fanservice Girl: Stella is upset when Charlie shows up while she's stripped down to her bra. She orders him to look away and quickly puts a shirt on.
  • Retirony: John Bridger is murdered shortly after completing his last job. Which makes this a variant, as he dies a few days after retiring instead of a few days before.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Ukranians. The moment it's discovered that they are interested on the heist (because of Steve killing Yehven, who was family of the local don), everybody goes Oh, Crap!. Thankfully, they are not ruthless enough that they cannot be negotiated with... which Charlie does, sealing Steve's final fate.
    Skinny Pete: If there's one thing I know, it's never to mess with mother nature, mother-in-laws, and mother freaking Ukrainians.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Or rather remake, with the job of recapturing the gold taking place in the United States (original heist crew being British and all).
  • The Sixth Ranger: Wrench, a mechanic whom Rob recruits to modify the Caper Crews cars, later becomes an official part of the crew when they need additional support.
  • Smug Snake: Steve, full out. Even if the move with the 'shell game' was clever by Charlie's own admission, both the plan for his counter-caper and keeping the gold away from Charlie's crew come down to having more people using guns on his side (Charlie and Bridger, being both of the Con Man Gentleman Thief breed, absolutely refuse to use them on their plans), which Charlie points out completely 'lacks imagination'. Furthermore, he had no ideas for how to use the loot himself, and thus decided to copy everybody else's ideas. Finally, he tries to sell himself off as a master thief when he's only a trigger-happy idiot—this one comes bite him in the ass hard when he kills Yehven.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Steve realizes that he's on a date with Bridger's daughter when Stella uses her father's trademark phrase, "I trust everyone; I just don't trust the devil inside them."
  • Stealing from Thieves: In the form of a heist against a former member who stole the take from their previous heist and murdered their mentor.
  • Take Five: Skinny Pete tells his girlfriend, "Go relax, babe," when he wants to have a private meeting with someone.
  • Technical Pacifist: Charlie and company are proud of the fact that they steal without ever holding a gun. They'll use explosives to blow holes in buildings and streets, they'll go on dangerous car and boat chases, they'll gas people, and they'll hand Steve over to the much more violent Ukrainians, but they won't take any direct actions to hurt people.
  • There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: "There are two kinds of thieves in this world: The ones who steal to enrich their lives, and those who steal to define their lives. Don't be the latter. Makes you miss out on what's really important in this life." Sage advice from John Bridger to Charlie Croker. Pretty much the last one.
  • Thought-Aversion Failure: When meeting Skinny Pete, Charlie tells Left Ear to not "stare" at him. When Left Ear lays eyes on the colossal obesity of Pete, Left Ear struggles to even speak, let alone not stare.
  • Title Drop: Charlie drops this when Handsome Rob shows concern about stealing the gold in transit, noting there's no way they could overpower armed guards in the truck. Charlie reminds him there's a way around a shootout (gas). It also describes how they pulled off the job in Italy: instead of breaking into the room with the safe, under guard by a lot of mooks with guns, they blow out the floor beneath it, causing the safe to drop where they can crack it open in safety. Doubles as a Call-Back when the team later does the same thing to drop the gold truck into the L.A. Subway, where Stella can crack it in safety like her dad did with the safe during the Italian job.
    Charlie: We do it like the Italian job.
  • To the Pain: Steve's apparent fate once the Ukrainians take him away, though he is still likely Killed Offscreen.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Handsome Rob does this to a hapless mook during a car chase.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Parodied. Handsome Rob, whilst trying to drive through the city as fast as possible to time the fastest possible escape route, is the second car in line stopped in the left turn lane at a red traffic light (note, this is a green arrow only turn signal). Unfortunately, the driver in front of him is an actor rehearsing the phrase, "Give me your badge and your weapon; I don't want to see you anywhere near this case (pretends to crush cup)" in such a variety of different voices and emphases while reading off the script itself he fails to notice there's a green arrow, until the very last second when it's turning amber and Rob starts shouting "Hey! It's a green!" and honking at him, so he's the only one that gets to go through, with a very disgruntled Rob saying, "Unbelievable!" in disbelief. Also, bonus if you noticed that the actor copies Rob's accent and decides to use that accent for the audition.
  • Traitor Shot: Edward Norton is the only member of the team who never interacts with the others face-to-face during the opening heist, and when the others are celebrating afterwards, the camera holds on him mostly just staring at the others in silence. Is it any wonder he double crosses them later?
  • True Companions: Charlie's group may be thieves, but they're also family.
  • Villainous Virtues: Mashkov is a brutal torturer and murderer, but he clearly wants to be sure that he tortures and murders the right person. And when presented with an opportunity to use brute force to steal all the gold, he simply takes the case that Charlie has prepared for him and says "I have made my deal." Of course, the person suggesting it was the one who had murdered his cousin, but he could have taken his revenge and still stolen the gold for himself.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: After the heist, Charlie narrates what happened to the others; Left Ear and Lyle got their dream house and stereo respectively, Handsome Rob went on his dream drive and got let off with a warning when he was 'caught' by the police, and Charlie is shown in Venice with Stella, musing that he's taking Bridger's advice by finding someone he loves that he will hold onto forever.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Either they steal the gold and get away, or Steve tracks them down and gets taken by the Ukrainians.
  • You Keep Telling Yourself That: Steve, ever the Smug Snake Jerkass, fires this at Stella when she defends stealing from him as justice for killing her father ("It's not about the gold." "Whatever helps you sleep at night, sweetheart!"). Stella punches him in the mouth in response, interrupting him before he can drop any further insults.
  • You Killed My Father: Stella's main reason for joining the heist is because Steve killed her father on his last mission and nearly drowned the rest of the team while stealing their gold.