The Italian Job is Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson’s first-ever double-disc documentary film.
The premise of this particular feature is simple: Clarkson has never before driven in a competitive motor race. Lacking the experience and the fitness to jump straight in, he takes advantage of the time that his classic touring racer is being built to build his fitness in the only way he knows how: by driving some very fast cars very quickly.
Cue a trip to Italy – hence the title – where ‘Jezza’ and the team gain unprecedented access to Ferrari’s Fiorano headquarters and the Imola Grand Prix circuit where he is afforded the opportunity to really be let loose in some of the most iconic sports cars going around.
Not only does he put the Ferrari 599 GTO and the beautiful 458 Italia through their paces, he is given complete access to the facilities of Ferrari’s manufacturing and testing headquarters, and there are some real gems to behold.
He also visits Imola and gets to try out a host of other cars on this famous circuit: Porsche’s GT3 and GT3 RS models, Lamborghini’s Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera and Mercedes’ gullwing-doored SLS AMG. A highlight it seeing his face given a now-famous thrashing when he takes the upgraded Ariel Atom V8 for a spin, and the day is capped off with a drive in the incredible Pagani Zonda R.
With his sports car escapades now complete, he returns to the UK and sets about learning the ropes, qualifying and racing in his round of the Classic Touring Car race. This too is an excellent segment of the feature, and one that all wannabe racing drivers will enjoy.
The second disc also contains three very interesting ‘making of’ featurettes that provide viewers with an excellent insight into the behind-the-scenes production of The Italian Job.
While the content of The Italian Job certainly appealed to me as a Top Gear and motorsport fan, the entire premise of this feature seemed weak, and I found the logic of sequencing a club race preparation with driving a veritable host of luxury sports cars in Italy a rather too long a bow to draw.
The pieces at Fiorano and Imola were outstanding and I could have happily watched more of them, and I would echo the same sentiments about his racing at the Lydden Hill circuit.
Both of these themes would have been perfectly good if taken in isolation and made into their own features, either as DVD productions or as lengthier segments of a conventional Top Gear episode. But combining the two just seemed like too much of a stretch – it’s almost as if they were actually meant to be made in isolation, and the producers decided to lump the two together.
There was just something about the entire package that didn’t make it work as well as it should have, and this was a great shame because it was very enjoyable in many respects.
Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award Clarkson – The Italian Job…
OUT OF A POSSIBLE 5.
Clarkson – The Italian Job is available for purchase at major stores.
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