This 'Job' is way too easy

"The Italian Job," a remake of the 1969 crime caper, rounds up all the usual suspect clichés for a major score in Venice.

There's a computer genius, an explosives expert, a getaway driver, and a veteran safe cracker (Donald Sutherland at his most venerable) who, you guessed it, vows this is his last job. And Mark Wahlberg plays the gang's brainy mastermind. (Who casts these movies?)

His best-laid plans go awry, however, when the gang is double crossed by Edward Norton, who makes off with the gold.

Movie title notwithstanding, the Venetian scenes that open the film turn out to be little more than Italian dressing.

The action shifts to Los Angeles, where the aggrieved gang plots to retrieve the gold by recruiting an illegally blond safecracker (Charlize Theron).

Sadly, the movie fails to understand the key ingredients of a great heist.

The "Italian Job" cries out for a moment in which a single drop of sweat from a burglar's forehead threatens to pierce a matrix of laser beams. It lacks the sort of sequence in which a fake gem has to be switched for a real one without upsetting an alarm system calibrated to detect any change in the jewel's weight. And one wishes there was a scene in which the thieves reinvent the Trojan horse to infiltrate a fortress so formidable that it makes Fort Knox look like Pee Wee's Playhouse by comparison.

In short, the genre works best when it pits MacGyver-like ingenuity and calm under pressure against seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

That's not to say that the plan to steal gold bullion in "The Italian Job" isn't clever - or even audacious - it's just all too easy; the gang relies on computer hacking and technological gizmos to solve every problem for them, squandering the potential for suspense.

The finale, a zippy car chase featuring Mini Coopers, fails to redeem "The Italian Job" but it's a welcome distraction from the most perfunctory performance of Norton's career.

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