One distinct memory I retain from my years as a teenager was a ‘group trip’ to the cinema, with ‘group trip’ being code for ‘convincing friends they want to see your choice of film in order to avoid breaking the last social taboo and going to the cinema on your own’. Unfortunately, this ‘group trip’ is ineffective when all but one of your so-called mates decide it would be more credible to see the new Italian Job over Underworld. For the rest of time, and especially after last night, Underworld was the intelligent choice.

It was a Monday night, and I should have accepted that it was never going to be a great night for television, with proper-job-types and students alike choosing to drown any depressing conception of the coming week in the pub/Oceana, and chosen a DVD. However, I was faced with the fascinating selection of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle and The Italian Job. Given the selection many people, especially our elite impacters, would no doubt have advised me to pick a DVD, watch boring TV, slowly pull out my fingernails one-by-one or, even worse, go and download LOST. In the case of Charlie’s Angels they’d be wrong, but with regards to The Italian Job I wish I’d had some pliers at hand. 

My newfound hatred for this hideous piece of commercial opportunism (courtesy of BMW’s Mini-revamp) is disconnected from any nostalgia surrounding the original film, which you are only allowed to enjoy if you are over 40, someone’s dad or know the names of all the cars in the movie. Shockingly, I have little knowledge of any of these situations, but I do know that if you must be of this mindset, I recommend Le Mans for an audience who do not want to be associated too closely with Jeremy Clarkson. 

In order to warn off as many as possible from succumbing to the curiosity a re-make will inspire, I will reveal the conclusion for the fraud that it is. If the idea of a film “based-upon” (the ultimate Hollywood get-out clause) the original doesn’t keep you watching, the audience will still be drawn in by the promise of all heist movies. This promise is of a car chase or shoot out followed by an unforeseen twist to disprove any accusations of brainlessness. As Edward Norton (with Satan goatee) gets his predictable comeuppance, Jason Statham gets his car and Mark Wahlberg gets his girl, I sat until the end of the credits expecting there to be a disclaimer stating that audiences are not permitted to contact the studio and request/demand the two hours of their life back.

Being sofa-ridden with Fresher’s Plague, those two hours of sleep meant more than any compensation could provide me with. But my true anger lay with the supposed ‘romantic interest’, Charlize Theron. Going temporarily off on a slightly obscure tangent, the publicity for Pan’s Labyrinth was littered with the only apparent explanation for the film’s genius, that Del Toro makes ‘one film for us, and one for himself’, giving Pan an extra level of personal depth. Actors seem to work in the same way, but surely they can get by on the minor millions they make from doing quality performances. For those who have seen Monster, an obscure, character-based masterpiece revolving around two of the defining performances of cinematic history (this writer doesn’t need to research who won supporting, but understands that Ricci was robbed), they know that Charlize Theron has a firm grasp on her art. However, as if it defines her profession, Theron must make The Italian Job and Aeon Flux to balance out the beauty of North Country and Monster, which is a damned shame. If she must play this game with Hollywood, I suggest that she seeks advice from Kate Beckinsale (sub-Matrix Werewolf-hunting Vampire) or Cameron Diaz (starts a helicopter, collects cargo, saves from destruction, and all as said helicopter falls off a bridge) on how to sell out in a truly stylish way.

Having received plaudits for The Departed, Mark Wahlberg will no doubt follow Theron’s pattern of role-selection, because the bloodhounds pay extra for a star with ‘Academy-Award Nominated’ in front of their name. Looks good on the poster, don’t you know. Max Payne will be interesting.

Oli Holden-Rea

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