A gang of thieves are double-crossed and left for dead by crew member Steve after pulling a gold heist in Venice. With grim determination, our antiheroes head to LA and concoct an elaborate plan to relieve Steve of his ill-gotten gains; a plan involving a fleet on Mini Coopers...
Think about The Italian Job. The 1969 vintage. No, really think about it. So, you've got the Mini chase. The Self-Preservation Society song. "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!". The Mini chase. That ending. Noel Coward in jail. The Mini chase. Michael Caine being, well, pure '60s Caine. And... that's it, really. Whisper it, but The Italian Job is really not as good as endless Bank Holiday repeats have cracked it up to be. And, as such, is perfect remake fodder.
So, kudos to F. Gary Gray for stripping out most of the parts that made the original so memorable (no cliffhanger here), and instead fine-tuning his version so it resembles Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Eleven more than its progenitor. Sadly, this doesn't quite possess Ocean's pizzazz, despite a decent script and performances.
Wahlberg, who has failed to convince as Charlton Heston and Cary Grant surrogates in Planet Of The Apes and The Truth About Charlie, is much more comfortable stepping into Michael Caine's size 10s (although he still needs to go to leading man charm school, and fast), while a slumming Norton is suitably slimy.
But, aptly for a heist flick, it's Wahlberg's eclectic gang - Green, Statham and Mos Def - who walk off with the picture, working wonders with their paper-thin stereotypes (the computer nerd, the rugged Brit, the token black) to keep the laughs coming.
Character, schmaracter. We're here for the Minis, one of the few elements to make the jump through the decades. It takes around 80 minutes of glossy foreplay (including an ingenious opening heist which takes place in Venice, for no reason other than to justify the title), before the souped-up Coopers are finally unleashed in a glorious chase through LA traffic, sidewalks and subways, before Wahlberg's Mini confrontation with Norton's helicopter. It certainly raises the movie's pulse, but ultimately it's hard to imagine this gluing us all to the goggle box on Bank Holiday Mondays in 2020.
Unlike the original, this Mini adventure lacks a single defining moment. But, as Michael Caine remakes go, it's way better than Get Carter.