The not-so recent trend in Hollywood of remaking older movies and television shows for a new generation has spawned a new breed of movie watcher: The person who's seen the original. These specific people enjoyed another victory in 2003 when Paramount released "The Italian Job," a remake of the 1969 British film of the same name. Yet what these people didn't realize is that despite not being as memorable as the original, the remake still proves to be an exiting piece of work. And now, two years later, Paramount has released the film on UMD for the Sony PSP.
The movie opens with Charlie Crocker (Mark Wahlberg) taking over as the leader of a band of international thieves. Their old leader, John (Donald Sutherland), agrees to one last heist before retirement, yet things go sour when one of the thieves, Steve (Edward Norton), betrays the group, kills John and runs off with the enormous amount of gold they just stole.
Charlie vows his revenge and reassembles the team with the addition of Stella (Charlize Theron), the daughter of their ex-boss. The film follows their adventures as they plan a revenge heist to steal back the gold from John. And for the most part, the movie doesn't fail to deliver a good slice of entertainment.
Perhaps one of the reasons it doesn't fail is the excellent cast. While Mark Wahlberg is no Michael Caine, his character is entertaining, and a good leader for the rest of the cast. Yet the true standouts are Jason Statham, Seth Green, and Mos Def who round out the gang of thieves. While the nature of the film doesn't lend itself to overly developed characters, their personas offer up some genuinely good chuckles which help pad out a few of the slow sections in the movie.
The film's climactic Mini Cooper chase is the highlight of the entire picture, its intensity rivaling that of the original's. "The Italian Job" works very well when it's in action mode, and it's be hard to find anyone who wouldn't enjoy the final act of the movie.
Paramount has created a decent looking transfer of the film for it's UMD release. The film's aspect ratio has been modified from it's original 2.35:1 scope release to fit the PSP's 16:9 screen, although while viewing the film I noticed no panning, or any indications that the film wasn't shot in 1.78:1. The transfer itself suffers from quite a few black speckles, some of which are quite large and definitely noticeable – surprising for such a new film. The blacks are, for the most part, rather nice, though in some instances can seem a bit washed out. The colors, on the other hand, are very vibrant and show off the wonderful capabilities of the PSP's LCD screen.
The sound is very clear, and is well balanced for both the PSP's speakers and headphones. The dialog is easily understandable and is never drowned out by the soundtrack or sound effects. And if you're in a busy place and forgot to bring headphones, there are English subtitles on the disc.
However, that being said, the English subtitles are the only extras present on the disc, which is a shame considering Paramount's original DVD release contained quite a few featurettes and deleted scenes. The menu for the disc is animated and nicely done, despite being taken from Paramount's original DVD release where it featured more options than just playing the movie and turning on subtitles.
"The Italian Job" isn't the best film to showcase the PSP's UMD video, yet it's certainly not a bad release either. The movie is a lot of fun, and proves to even the skeptics that Hollywood doesn't always ruin it's classics when remaking them.