Directed by F Gary Gray, starring Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Edward Norton, Jason Statham, Seth Green, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland.
Don't think remake. The Minis, a shot of Michael Caine on a TV screen, some character names and an opening heist in Italy are all that connects this film to the 60's classic that took on a life of its own and defined a car and cool. It's not as smart, it's not as sexy and there's no great twist in the ending. But nor is it the hide-behind-your-hands fiasco that plenty had feared. Go in expecting nothing and you'll end up with more than Caine and his onscreen crew did 34 years ago.
A gang travels to Venice to knock off a safeload of gold bullion and, against the odds and every police boat in the city, they succeed. The haul means there's $35m to share between mastermind Bridger (Sutherland), his protege Charlie Corker (Wahlberg), driver Handsome Rob (Statham), computer geek Lyle (Green), explosives guy Left Ear (Mos Def) and inside man Steve (Norton). But it's still not enough for Steve and he double-crosses the other cons, killing Bridger and leaving the rest for dead at the bottom of an icy lake.
Fast forward a few years and Charlie, Handsome Rob, Lyle and Left Ear are in New York, still together and still trying to figure out how to get back at Steve. And it turns out he's not on the other side of the world, just LA - sitting in a heavily guarded mansion and fencing off the bullion in stages to the Russian mob. Which is where Bridger's daughter Stella (Theron) comes in: she's a legit security systems expert without whom the guys have no chance. But will she accept that revenge is far sweeter than an honest dollar?
Wahlberg has the charisma of a packing crate, Theron's part is flimsy and Norton gives his worst performance and yet, this film still works. Gray knows that to compensate for a weak storyline (witness the subplot involving Stella seducing Steve that's over five minutes after it begins) he's got to keep it pacey. And there are enough wisecracks here and nice support from Statham, Green and Mos Def to bounce the audience over the bumps. Even with stunts that are more solid than spectacular, you'll still take every turn in your cinema seat and be convinced that Mini sales are going to go stratospheric all over again.
After a summer where some blockbusters thought they had a far deeper message to impart than "shut up and eat the popcorn", it's nice to see a film that doesn't think too much of itself and succeeds in cutting the corners. Don't be too hard on yourself for enjoying it.