There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
The Italian Job is not too funny, not too slick, and not too excitingbut it’s far from just right. A remake of the 1969 caper starring Michael Caine and Benny Hill, the current Job was apparently more difficult to hire for: Mark Wahlberg and Seth Green only attempt to fill Caine’s and Hill’s shoes, while Edward Norton sleepwalks through a role he was contractually obligated to take. The result is a by-the-numbers heist flick that’s compelling in a flipping-through-cable kind of way, with characters and plot developments not so annoying or stupid as to dissuade you from wanting to find out what happens next. Wahlberg plays Charlie, the next-in-line leader of a merry band of thieves headed by John (Donald Sutherland), who’s promised to mentor him through one last job. Cue premature death: After the boys successfully steal bazillions in gold from a Venice safe and have a kooky discussion about what each is going to do with his share, rascally Steve (Norton) decides that he wants the loot all for himself. He knocks off John and, he believes, the others, including computer geek Lyle (Green), explosives expert Left Ear (Mos Def), and, uh, cool guy Handsome Rob (The Transporter’s Jason Statham). The boys, ever so pissed, track Steve down in Los Angeles after a year and enlist the help of John’s daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron)who also happens to be the world’s hottest safecrackerto get back the gold. These are the most emotional criminals you’re likely to see, and not in a dark, got-the-devil-inside kind of way: Touchy-feely kudos between John and Charlie (ranging from “You were incredible, just incredible” to “I love you, kidyou did really great”) make the first robbery seem like a Thieving Your Way to Better Self-Esteem exercise, and Stellajust like a damegets all freaked out after Steve hits on her when she first meets him (“He touched my hand!”). Mild comic relief comes from stock tech nerd Lyle, whose gag is to whine that he’s the true inventor of Napster (claiming his college roommate, Shawn Fanning, stole the idea and named it such while Lyle was napping), as well as from cheap flashbacks to when the characters were just wee troublemakers. But besides the climactic Mini Cooper stuntin which a bit of downtown-L.A. streetlight manipulation leads to lots of cool precision driving through not only jammed roads but also over underground Metro tracksthis is one Job that’s really just a grind. Tricia Olszewski