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Movie Review

Venice is jam-packed with beautiful sights. The Four Horses of San Marco. St. Mark’s Basilica. The Bridge of Sighs. Thirty-five million dollars of gold ingots resting quietly in a large safe. Guess which one John Bridger and his protégé, Charlie Croker, want to take back to America with them. They and their crack squad of affable criminals (Steve, Lyle, Handsome Rob and Left Ear) concoct an elaborate scheme to filch the gold and before you can say "John Robie" they’re on the way to Austria with the loot. But remember the old proverb about there being no honor among thieves? During the trip Steve arranges to have the convoy ambushed by a pack of gunmen and proceeds to shoot Bridger in cold blood during the robbery. Fast-forward a year to Bridger’s daughter Stella, a commercial safecracker who’s still heartbroken over her father’s murder. Enter Charlie with a proposition for Stella. He and the rest of the crew are seething with anger at Steve and itching for some sweet revenge. They want to steal the gold back, but they need someone who can open just about any safe in the world in five minutes flat. Someone like Stella. Is she ready to take down the man who killed her father?

positive elements: Bridger regrets that his illegal lifestyle caused him to be locked away from his daughter for long periods of time. Stella similarly laments that she hardly knew her father. All the same, the two express genuine love and devotion for one another. Stella disapproves of her father’s stealing and when he offers her a necklace as a gift, she wants to make sure it has a receipt (it does). In a statement remarkably reminiscent of Romans 3:10-18 and Jeremiah 17:9, Bridger says that everyone has "the devil inside them." He also urges Charlie to find someone to settle down with and says that having a family is much more important than wealth.

spiritual content: When Lyle discovers how much Steve’s gold is worth, he lets loose an ecstatic "yeah!" in the midst of a crowded airport. He then explains to puzzled onlookers, "Got the Holy Spirit. You should get on it. It’s a good train."

sexual content: When Left Ear praises an Italian tome offering advice on sex and love, Handsome Rob quips, "Unlike you, friend, I don’t need a guidebook." After the successful heist, the crew fantasizes about getting "naked girls and leather suits" and "speakers so loud they blow women’s clothes off." (Viewers see this sound system in action during the closing credits; the nudity is only implied.) A surname on a fake ID sounds like a part of a woman’s anatomy. Charlie catches Stella wearing only shorts and a bra when he walks into her room unannounced. Lyle makes a crack about a female cable worker’s breasts. Handsome Rob proceeds to seduce and sleep with her (the camera briefly shows the pair lying in bed the morning after in their underwear). Stella wears a number of mildly revealing tank tops.

violent content: Chase scenes abound. After stealing the gold-filled safe in Italy by blowing out the floor beneath it, Handsome Rob and Left Ear take its guards on a wild ride through the Venetian canals that ends with two wrecked speedboats and a bisected gondola. Handsome Rob leads police on a lengthy high-speed chase. Lyle causes multiple traffic accidents when he jimmies traffic lights at major intersections. Steve’s thugs chase Charlie and Co. through a large drainpipe on motorcycles while shooting at them. One biker crashes when he loses control and another is knocked off his ride by a quickly opened car door. Steve attempts to slice Charlie’s car to ribbons with a helicopter prop. During Steve’s doublecross he shoots Bridger twice at point-blank range. Charlie and the rest of the crew try to speed away in their van, but end up running it off a bridge into icy water. Steve then empties an automatic weapon into the floating vehicle. A flashback shows Left Ear losing part of his hearing as a child after blowing up a toilet with a firecracker. Steve blasts a pawn shop owner multiple times in the chest. (The shooting is shown on a small black and white security monitor that masks much of the detail.) A Ukrainian mobster threatens a man with an axe. Charlie and Stella both punch Steve. Carefully set explosives cause a truck to plunge though the street into the subway below.

crude or profane language: One f-word and half-a-dozen or so s-words. About 20 other profanities and crudities are used. Jesus’ name is abused twice and God’s name is misused once. Boomkat’s "The Wreckoning" plays during a scene and features a number of profanities. Handsome Rob makes an obscene gesture at pursuing police.

drug and alcohol content: Bridger gives Charlie a cigar with which to celebrate their heist. Italian guards puff on cigarettes. The whole company toasts its $35 million take with bottles of bubbly. Handsome Rob smokes while stuck in traffic, but throws his cigarette out after seeing a billboard about cancer deaths. Left Ear puffs away in another scene. Sundry characters down alcohol.

other negative elements: Two huge thematic spoilers mar The Italian Job. The first is the justification of stealing. Bridger divides those who pilfer into "good" and "bad" categories when he says to Charlie, "There are two kinds of thieves in the world: those who steal to enrich their lives and those who steal to define their lives. Don’t be the latter." The second objectionable theme, which is that of revenge, plays into the first. When Charlie first tells Stella about the plan to rip off Steve, he states, "[Bridger] was a father to me, too. I can’t move on until I’ve set things right." Since he loved Bridger so much, apparently taking vengeance on his behalf—no matter what illegal and unethical means doing so might entail—will make the unjust situation okay in the end. (See Romans 12:19 for a divine counterpoint.)

conclusion: The Italian Job has all the elements one would expect from a film that aspires to "summer blockbuster" status. It contains an easily understandable story with a few plot twists, compelling—if not deep—characterizations, lots of humor and action, exotic locales and the obligatory rounds of product placement (courtesy of Pepsi Blue, Dell and the ubiquitous BMW MINI Cooper). But it fits even more smoothly into the mold of 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven. Revised 1960s source material tells a tale about a bunch of good-hearted crooks bent on stinging another crook who, unlike them, happens to be really bad. And that’s a problem for teens who, amidst the cool chase scenes and tight pacing, will likely internalize the message that "it doesn’t matter if you do wrong things just as long as you have the ‘right’ motivation." A clear violation of Ephesians 4:28 and Deuteronomy 5:19. That alone is enough to keep families of all nationalities—Italian, Chinese, African or American—from applying for this Job.

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Mark Wahlberg as Charlie Croker; Donald Sutherland as John Bridger; Charlize Theron as Stella Bridger; Edward Norton as Steve Frezelli; Seth Green as Lyle; Jason Statham as Handsome Rob; Mos Def as Left Ear


Paramount Pictures



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Loren Eaton

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