The Italian Job (2003) was about a group of thieves who plot to steal gold from another criminal. F. Gary Gray was the director of that heist film, which was also a remake of a 1969 British crime drama. I'm not sure if screenwriter Daniel Kunka (12 Rounds) was inspired by Gray's film or the original, but it's likely that producers Simon Kinberg and Matt Reeves recognized the similarities between Gray's 2003 flick and Kunka's script here, which is also about a group of thieves who plot to steal gold from another criminal and the climax takes place in Italy. Kinberg and Reeves likely recognized the twin-like nature and decided to get F. Gary Gray to direct this film as well.

The Italian Job isn't the first heist film that Gray has done. Gray's second feature was Set It Off (1996). Heist films, particularly bank robbery films, are a genre onto themselves. Each one that's made since the 60's, since the original The Italian Job, has to have some kind of gimmick or something to set it apart. Set It Off stood out because it centered on four, Black women, which is something that we haven't had before or really since. Steve McQueen's Widows (2018) came close. More diverse casts in these heist films have been happening over the past 20 years or so with things like Steven Soderbergh's Ocean Eleven (2001) or Den of Thieves (2018).


Kevin Hart (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Ride Along) stars as Cyrus Whitaker, a professional thief who has apparently made a killing from his crimes and is now living in the lap of luxury. He's known by Interpol, but Interpol hasn't been able to arrest him until now. Interpol is able to build a case against him, but, instead of putting him in prison, Interpol decides to use their case as leverage to get Cyrus to do a job for them. Interpol wants Cyrus to commit a heist against an even worse criminal who is in league with terrorists, engaging in cyber-crimes that are killing people.

Several years ago, Hart did a film called The Upside (2017), which was a remake of The Intouchables (2012), a French film starring Omar Sy. Hart played the same role as Sy. Currently, Omar Sy is in the series Lupin (2021), which is a TV show where Sy plays a professional thief. It's interesting that again Hart is copying a character, or a kind of character that Omar Sy has done. The problem is that Hart's character isn't nearly as fleshed out as Sy's character. Hart seems to be simply trying to be George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven, but Clooney's character had way more depth than Hart's character does here.


Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beauty and the Beast and Concussion) co-stars as Abby Gladwell, an agent at Interpol who has been assigned to the case of Cyrus. She has a history with him that's similar to the dynamic in shows like The Company You Keep (2023) or The Brothers Sun (2024), which is a romantic entanglement between cop and criminal. This dynamic might go back to The Thomas Crowne Affair (1968) and was echoed in Soderbergh's Out of Sight (1998), which also starred Clooney. It's an obvious route for the film take, that of a female law enforcement agent falling for the criminal she's trying to catch and possibly arrest. It's an obvious route done so only because Abby is a woman. At least, the film gives her a back story, which isn't the case for Cyrus.

When it comes to the other characters in the film, the members of Cyrus' team, they are given the shortest of shrift and like Cyrus, neither of them get back stories or any kind of depth or dimension, beyond the superficial one. Something like Ocean's Eleven didn't have the time to delve into all of its characters. Most though got something significant to do that was crucial to the heist. A couple of Cyrus' members don't even get that. Those couple of characters are easily dismissed and forgettable. Soderbergh was able to give us more characterization with his leads, way more than Gray does here.


It's not as if Gray is incapable of such characterization. Set It Off fleshed out all four of his protagonists and particularly the leads. For him to be so lacking here with his protagonists, especially Hart's character, it's disappointing. It's likely an issue with Kunka's script, which doesn't have an eye for characterization, as it does have an eye on its gimmick and maintaining the twists of the heist or heists here.

When it comes to heists, the gimmick is usually coming up with a way to rob a place that has seemingly impenetrable security or is a rather unique location. Christopher Nolan takes the cake in terms of unique locations. Nolan's Inception (2010) had a heist inside someone's dreams. You can't really top that. Zack Snyder set a heist in a zombie apocalypse in Army of the Dead (2021), which was somewhat clever. Here, Kunka's script wants to pull off two gimmicks. The first is the heist of something intangible, literally. The second is the heist of something that's so over-the-top that it would only be something done in a film. There's a history of heists of fast-moving vehicles, going back to The Great Train Robbery (1903). This film advances this concept with the heist of an actual airplane, not only of what's inside but also of the plane itself. It's a notable gimmick for sure, and Gray has fun with it, if not going as far with it as he could.


Rated PG-13 for action, violence and some language.

Running Time: 1 hr. and 46 mins.

Available on Netflix.

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