Most of the film was shot on location in Venice and Los Angeles, where canals and streets, respectively, were temporarily shut down during principal photography. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, The Italian Job was theatrically released in the United States on May 30, 2003, and grossed over $176 million worldwide. Critical response was generally positive, with publications highlighting the action sequences. A sequel, The Brazilian Job, has reportedly been in development since 2004, but has yet to be produced as of 2018.
John Bridger, a professional safecracker, has assembled a team to steal 35 million dollars worth of gold bullion from a safe in Venice, held by Italian gangsters who had stolen it weeks earlier. The team includes Charlie Croker, a professional thief; Lyle or "Napster", a computer expert; Handsome Rob, their wheelman; Steve, their inside man; and Left Ear, their explosives expert. The heist is successful, but as they drive towards Austria with the bullion, they are stopped by men loyal to Steve, who had turned on them and takes the bullion for himself. Steve kills John when he admonishes him, and Rob drives the van over a bridge into the waters below to protect the others, using air tanks from the heist to stay alive. Steve leaves them for dead.
A year later in the United States, Charlie learns that Steve has resurfaced under a new identity and is laundering the gold through a Ukrainian jeweler named Yevhen to finance his lavish lifestyle in Los Angeles. Charlie gathers the team, and also recruits John's daughter Stella, a skilled private safe cracker, offering her the chance to get revenge on Steve for her father's death. They stake out Steve's mansion, and Stella, disguising herself as a cable technician, is able to map out its interior, allowing them to determine the location of Steve's safe containing the bullion. Coincidentally, Steve, unaware of Stella's identity, offers to go out on a date with her. Charlie devises a plan using explosives to blow the safe while Steve is away on his supposed date, using three heavily modified Mini Coopers to transport the gold out of the mansion. Charlie enlists the help of Skinny Pete for the explosives and Wrench to make the modifications on the cars. However, on the night of the planned heist, they find Steve's neighbors are having a party, and as the explosives would draw their attention, and they abandon the plan. Stella ends up having to meet Steve after all and inadvertently gives away her identity to Steve by using similar phrases her father used, but the team arrives to help protect her. Steve is shocked they survived but taunts them that he has the upper hand.
Steve becomes paranoid that Charlie will steal the gold, and starts to launder it faster, but he is forced to kill Yevhen when he reveals his knowledge of the Venice heist. Yevhen's death infuriates Mashkov, his cousin and a leading member of a Ukrainian crime family. Mashkov connects the murder to Charlie through Skinny Pete. Further uneased, Steve makes plans to transport the gold to Mexico City by a private plane from Los Angeles International Airport after transporting it there in an armored car. Napster overhears of this, and Charlie and his gang make a new plan to steal the gold en route to the airport by hijacking the city's traffic control system to force the armored car to a planned spot where they will execute the heist.
On the day of transport, they are surprised when three armored trucks leave Steve's mansion, but Napster is able to determine which one carries the bullion, and manipulates the traffic accordingly. Knowing that Steve is monitoring the transport by helicopter, they get the car to the target spot and then create a diversion as they detonate explosives to drop the part of the road with the car into the old subway tunnels below. After opening the truck, they find a different safe to the one that held the gold before. Although she struggles initially, Stella cracks the safe, and they load up the Coopers with the gold. They race from the subway to the Los Angeles River and through the city, pursued by Steve's henchmen on motorcycles, with Napster helping to create a green wave to evade traffic. Steve himself eventually leaves his helicopter and steals a truck to follow them to Union Station.
At Union Station, the cars are loaded onto a train car with the help of Wrench. Steve arrives shortly thereafter and after bribing Wrench, is surprised to find Charlie and the others waiting for him. Steve brandishes a gun and demands his gold back, but Mashkov arrives; Charlie explains that he has offered Mashkov part of the gold and Steve in exchange for helping with security protection. Steve is punched in the face by Stella before being taken away by Mashkov, who reveals he will be tortured and killed. The group boards the train as it departs to New Orleans, and celebrate in John's honor. The epilogue shows them all having used their share of the gold for their own desired purposes; Handsome Rob purchases an Aston Martin Vanquish, Left Ear buys a mansion in southern Spain, while Napster buys a powerful stereo capable of blowing a woman's clothes off. Meanwhile, Charlie takes John's advice about finding someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with, and he and Stella travel to Venice together.
Neal Purvis and Robert Wade wrote a draft of a remake of the 1969 British crime comedy The Italian Job which was rejected by Paramount. Screenwriting team Donna and Wayne Powers were subsequently commissioned to write a remake. The duo viewed the original film, which neither had seen before, only once "because wanted to get a sense of what it was about" in regards to its tone. Over the course of two years and through 18 drafts, they developed a screenplay which was described by director F. Gary Gray as "inspired by the original." Gray, Powers and Powers, and executive producer James Dyer identified the most prominent similarities as the trio of Mini Coopers used by the thieves, as well as the titular heist involving the theft of gold bullion. Some sequences of the film were storyboarded and previsualized by Gray before production began.