2003 Running time: 110 Certificate: 12 Rating: 4

Synopsis

The Minis (the sexy new BMW version), the title plus a tenuous Italian connection are about all that remain from the classic 1969 British heist caper - but there's no denying it's an exciting ride. Mark Wahlberg replaces Michael Caine as cheeky mastermind Charlie Croker and the action switches from Turin to LA. Charlize Theron joins the crew as a slinky safecracker and Jason Statham provides the muscle, while Edward Norton throws himself into gear for chief villain duty.

Director

  • F Gary Gray

Cast

  • Mark Wahlberg

  • Charlize Theron

  • Edward Norton

  • Jason Statham

  • Donald Sutherland

  • Seth Green

  • Mos Def

Review

Rather than use the original as a template for a Hollywood remake, director F Gary Gray returns to the classic British 30-year-old gold heist for mere inspiration.

So we still have three Mini Coopers (in this case, the sexy BMW version), a bullion haul and master thief Charlie Croker (Wahlberg in the Michael Caine role).

What we don't have is the Swinging Sixties atmosphere of camp and a couple of touches that made it such a favourite (ie the Aston Martin totalled by a Mafia bulldozer on an Alpine road).

However, those of you still suffering sweat-drenched flashbacks to the atrocity that was Sly Stallone's American remake of Get Carter can rest easy.

This is a slick, entertaining caper given a rich Hollywood gloss - even if the geezerish humour of Caine's vehicle is missing (as is Benny Hill's big women-obsessed lecher).

After pulling off an ambitious heist of $35m of gold in Venice, Croker's accomplice Steve (Norton) double crosses his colleagues and leaves them for dead.

However, Croker and co. survive and begin plotting revenge in the form of stealing the gold back from Steve, who's now fencing the haul in Los Angeles.

The original team of computer hacker Lyle (Seth Green), Handsome Rob (Jason Statham) and explosives expert Left Ear (Mos Def) are all up for the job.

They're also joined by safecracker Stella (Theron), the daughter of John Bridger (Sutherland), Croker's original sideman who was killed by the duplicitous Steve.

With LA taking the place of Turin, the scene is set for Charlie and his gang to, as they say, get in, get out and get even.

The team launch into preparations for the heist with the familiar sight of the souped-up Minis (32 were provided by BMW) being put through their paces.

However, the indignant presence of the Italian Mafia that added such a frisson to the original is missing and the chase, when it comes, seems to run out of gas a bit early.

This being Tinseltown, they also shy away from the sublimely inconclusive ending of the 30-year-old which left things literally hanging in the balance.

That said, there's a lot to enjoy - a likeable cast, competent script and the sight of the real stars - the cars - going into overdrive. Job done.

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