The Score


There are no partners in crime.


Jurassic Mark

SCORE: 2 Stars

To examine the screenplay of The Score, one is obliged to work backwards from the films unsatisfactory conclusion to the film's unsatisfactory beginning. Most of the stuff in-between is pretty good. Unfortunately, in the history of "plot-twists," The Score features one of the lamest plot-twists in recent memory. The uninspired conclusion undermines the rest of the movie.

The film touts four powerful actors: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando. Fans of cult director Jim Jarmusch will also recognize Gary Farmer in a small role.

De Niro and Norton grab most of the screen time. They're fantastic as usual. Nick (De Niro) is an accomplished burglar. He's smart and he's got style. Nick's covers his criminal behavior with legitimate ownership of an impressive Montreal jazz club. Nick's club rivals Bogart's Casablanca casino for atmosphere. The Score demonstrates top-notch art decoration.

Norton has the showier role. He plays a cocky thief named Jack who's been casing Montreal Customs posing as a retarded janitor. The dual role is a perfect showcase for Norton's dramatic range. While De Niro's character plays it safe, Jack is all about risk.

Brando's character (Max) is necessary from a plot standpoint. Max is a career criminal with the resources to set up the heist. Brando's performance is uneven. Mostly he justs adds weight to the picture (literally). In several scenes, the obese actor lounges about like a man who just won a pie-eating contest on a hot summer day. Still, most serious film fans will be glad to see Brando's occasional flashes of his former self. Brando is 77. I don't think we're going to see much more from one of America's finest.

Bassett is more than competent as the typical, underdeveloped Hollywood love interest.

There are two reasons The Score almost succeeds:

1. The Score has that wonderful "how to" screenplay. We get to see the high-tech tools of the burglars. We get to see them plan a very complicated heist.

2. The robbery itself is brilliantly detailed and quite suspenseful.

But, despite achieving technical merit, The Score annoyed me with its lack of depth. We're given no reason to cheer for "the victor." Yet, clearly the screenplay wants us too. Likewise, we have no reason (until the last five minutes) to dislike the "loser." Yet, clearly the screenplay wants us too. The screenplay was asking me to do the impossible because it forced me to buy into that age-old Hollywood idea of honor among thieves. What a ridiculous notion.