Screenplay by Donna Powers and Wayne Powers.
Donna Powers and Wayne Powers‘ version of The Italian Job is a remake of the original by Troy Kennedy Martin. And the way they’ve chosen to go-about with it is arguably better than its source material. Whereas Martin’s slowly and frustratingly built-up to the Italian Job, and ended it in the aftermath, the Powers’ idea of it is to begin in Italy and deal with the recuperations. It was claimed it actually isn’t a remake, and only shares the title. But that just isn’t true – there’s the protagonist, Charlie Croker, his mentor, John Bridger, as well as the Mini Coopers and the sewer chase. It isn’t so much a remake as a remix, and it’s almost – almost – a sequel to the original.
Martin’s planned sequel to The Italian Job was that the Self Preservation Society would be rescued by the Mafia, who’d take the gold for themselves, making the next phase to take it from them. It’s no coincidence, then, that the remake begins with the job, and features the villain taking it for himself, prompting a revengeful reclaim scheme. See? It practically follows the original sequel’s synopsis perfectly. But luckily, it does so in the form of a remake, which means it can combine that synopsis with revisitations of the original’s best moments, like the sewer chase. The Minis can also be updated, as opposed to being recovered from beyond recovery at the bottom of the Alps, and – and this is the most important point – there don’t need to be as many characters. Martin’s idea of The Italian Job was to include lots of action figures to advance the plot, whereas now, the characters are smaller, making them more defined and much more interesting.
Croker’s still present, Bridger’s since been released from prison and has a daughter, Stella. Interestingly, Stella doesn’t need to palmed-off on a plane due to an overabundance of characters, and every major character is actively involved in the car chase. To put it simply, Donna and Wayne Powers are just more capable screenwriters. And as a result, I felt more invested in the characters. They were more defined, and we actually get a backstory to them, which only required a series of flashbacks during one scene. What that makes this version of The Italian Job is something you find yourself being more actively interested in. Which isn’t to say the original isn’t interesting, it’s just that it’s only so well-known because of the car chase and few other reasons. No, the car chase this time round isn’t nearly as exciting and only takes a few minutes. But that doesn’t matter, because it’s presented as being less important than what its role in events is.
Here’s the thing: when watching The Italian Job, I got the impression that Martin relied on the action and car chase sequence to define the story. Whereas watching The Italian Job gave me the idea that Donna and Wayne Powers preferred for the sum to be greater than the parts. Comparing the two entirely by their chase sequences makes the original far superior. But on every other level, the remake is definitely supreme. The bigger picture on a whole is more entertaining, more fun and gives you more out of it sensually, instead of having one good bit. By the end of it, you feel satisfied that these people have been able to pull-off what they planned to do. In the original, you care about the cliffhanger but not really about the characters’ placement in it.
The original is a classic. The remake’s better.
The Italian Job – improves potential of source material 7/10.