Directed by Frank Oz, "The Score" presents an aging jewel thief who merely wants to quit the biz and tend his swank Montreal jazz club. Have we seen this before? One last score that nearly gets our hero killed before he happily retires forever? Yes, we have.
I believe the phrase is "star-driven", after all, we have the collective talents of Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando (huh?) and, most especially, Edward Norton. (Sure, Angela Bassett shows up but only as the token chick – her talent goes completely unused.) Acting noises are made but no one is in danger of pulling any muscles. DeNiro is his usual cunning and tough-yet-lovable self as veteran thief, Nick. No surprises there.
What Marlon Brando, as Max, Nick's financial partner, commits in physical largesse, he makes up for with his simple approach to acting. He is one of the few actors who can break down walls and convince us we are not watching a film but merely eavesdropping on nearby characters. Brando is hysterically funny and oh, that distinctive voice.
Nevertheless, 85% of the real acting in this film is done by Edward Norton who plays Jack, a freshman thief who desperately wants to hook up with Nick to swipe an ancient jeweled scepter from the Montreal Customs House. Jack has been casing the joint for months, posing as Brian, the retarded janitor, who carries a lunch pail to work. Jack describes his cover character as "a charity case" and it's true – Brian is regarded as a big, safe child.
The question is – who is ripping off whom? Though Nick takes some convincing to lead the caper, he makes it clear that he is the boss and what he says goes. Ultimately, Jack has to rebel – it's clearly his nature.
Other than the collective cast, there is nothing special about this film. Even the big plot twist is only mildly interesting. The writing should have met the challenge of these fine actors and delivered more - more meat to chew on, more ideas to explore. For a crime suspense film, it was painfully slow – making this a better video rental candidate than anything. The first half of the film is just Nick considering the job. Should he? Should he not? Let's talk about it and then, let's talk about it some more. YAWN.
The real score? Hollywood-1, Audience-0.
© 2004 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 7/25/01
USA - 2001