Let’s dive into a fun movie debate – The Italian Job. There’s the 1969 original that made us fall in love with Mini Coopers, and the high-octane 2003 remake that flipped the story on its head. We’re about to get into the nitty-gritty of each version, and answer that burning question: which version of the Italian Job is better?
A Tale Twice Told
Both films center on a heist led by the character, Charlie Croker. In the 1969 film, Michael Caine’s Croker and his crew carry out a daring robbery in Turin, Italy. They zip around the city in Mini Coopers, giving the Italian Mafia a run for their money. The movie ends on a cliff-hanger, keeping us guessing about what happened to the audacious crew.
Fast forward to 2003, Mark Wahlberg’s Charlie Croker takes center stage. After a successful heist in Venice, the gang gets double-crossed by their own mate, Steve (Edward Norton). The film turns into a revenge-fueled caper, peppered with slick heist sequences and high-speed chases.
The ’69 film lined up some serious talent. Michael Caine and Noël Coward (as Mr. Bridger, a criminal mastermind helping Croker from behind bars) lead the pack. Throw in Benny Hill as Professor Peach, the computer whizz, and Tony Beckley as Camp Freddie, and you’ve got a cast full of British charm and wit.
In the 2003 version, Wahlberg’s Croker is a different breed but still packs a punch. Charlize Theron plays Stella Bridger, the daughter of John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) and a top-notch safe cracker. The supporting cast, Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), Lyle (Seth Green), the tech genius, and Left Ear (Mos Def), the explosives guy, add solid humor and grit to the plot. Edward Norton’s Steve isn’t as charming as the original villain (Raf Vallone), but he nails the traitor role.
Location, Location, Location
One major change between the two films is the location. In the original, Turin’s traffic chaos becomes a character itself, as the crew uses it as a diversion for their heist. The chase with Mini Coopers down the Italian Alps and through narrow Italian streets is unforgettable.
On the flip side, the 2003 movie kicks off in Venice and then jets off to Los Angeles. While Venice is a nod to the original’s Italian vibe, LA provided a familiar urban setting with a modern feel.
Mini Coopers and Heist High Jinks
Both versions celebrate these tiny, agile vehicles, using them to transport the stolen gold. The original chose them for their British heritage and their zippy performance, a choice so smart, the remake follows suit.
As for the heist element, the ’69 film broke new ground with the idea of a citywide traffic jam to pull off a robbery. In the 2003 version, we see a more personal angle to the heist, making it a quest for revenge while adding a new twist to the traffic jam scene, on Hollywoods’ most famous streets.
The Critics and Rotten Tomatoes
So, how did the films fare with critics and audiences? The ’69 film was a hit in the UK, but in the US, it was a different story. Over time, though, it’s achieved a cult following, with an impressive 85% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The 2003 remake got mixed reviews. Critics loved the pace and the heist sequences but felt it missed the original’s magic. The film struck a chord with younger audiences though, making it a hit at the box office. It holds a respectable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. As you can see, it’s a close race. We personally love this version and its diverse cast of Hollywood actors.
Let’s take a moment to appreciate the crews in both films. Each group had its own distinct flair. In the 1969 version, it was all about British camaraderie and eccentric personalities. From Caine’s charismatic Croker to Hill’s quirkily amusing Professor Peach, each character had a unique style.
In contrast, the 2003 version played around with a mix of personalities and talents. Wahlberg’s Croker was a more refined, strategic leader. Seth Green’s Lyle, aka “The Real Napster,” brought tech-savviness to the table, while Statham’s Handsome Rob and Mos Def’s Left Ear had specific skills that added to the heist’s success. The winning group, as a whole, goes to the 2003 cast, for their humor and chemistry.
Another interesting angle is to look at the films through the lenses of their directors. Peter Collinson’s 1969 original has a distinct British tone to it. The film feels like a classic British caper, reflecting the cinematic style and sensibilities of its era.
F. Gary Gray’s 2003 version, however, brings in a distinctly Hollywood feel. It’s high-energy, high-stakes, and high-tech. The storytelling is fast-paced, with more emphasis on character backstories and personal motivation and gain.
The Studio Perspective
The studios that produced these films also play a significant role. Paramount Pictures took a gamble with the original movie in 1969. The film was unique for its time, pushing boundaries with its plot and cliffhanger ending.
The 2003 version, co-produced by Paramount and De Line Pictures, represented the modern trend of remaking classics. The film was designed to appeal to contemporary audiences, with an updated plot, a star-studded cast, and high-adrenaline action sequences.
So, Which Version of the ‘Italian Job’ is Better?
Well, the ’69 Italian Job with its charm and wit, its brilliant heist and unforgettable car chases, is a cult classic. It’s a movie you can watch again and again, and it’ still just as fun as it was the first time.
On the other hand, the 2003 Italian Job comes with a fresh twist. It offers a mix of comedy, action, and drama, with a touch of romance. It’s a fun, adrenaline-pumping film that’s perfect for a movie night with friends.
So, which version of the Italian Job is better? As we said before, it’s all a matter of taste. Are you a fan of old-school classics or modern day action movies? Either way, both films are an exciting ride and offer a glimpse into how cinema has changed over the years. It’s definitely worth watching both and deciding for yourself.
If you liked this article, you my also like our article on the remake of Shop Around the Corner.