Director: Frank Oz
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ed Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando
The Score recently celebrated it’s twentieth anniversary on the 13th July, and yet no one really talks about it. Despite its stellar cast, it’s been fairly forgotten. The reason for that boils down to how bland it is. The Score is a heist film, that follows every plot point and trope that a heist film has. Even though it is well made, with great performances, this is still a blueprint heist film.
Robert De Niro (The Godfather Part 2, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver) stars as Nick Wells. By day he is a jazz bar owner, by night he is an international thief and safe-cracker. After almost being caught he decides it’s time to retire and focus on his bar. His partner in crime Max, played by Marlon Brando (The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, On the Waterfront), offers him one last job with a big pay-day. Reluctantly Nick agrees and ends up working with Jack Teller, played by Ed Norton (Fight Club), to arrange the heist.
The best thing about The Score is the cast. All three give great performances and it’s a treat to watch three of the greatest actors of all time plan a heist together. The Score is also noteworthy for being Brando’s last role and the only time he shared the screen with De Niro, despite both playing Vito Corleone in The Godfather. Ed Norton is also fantastic, playing the unhinged Jack Teller, who can switch between his sweet personality, that he uses to get on the inside of Customs House (where the heist will take place), and his more sinister criminal side. Angela Bassett also stars in The Score, but her role feels like it’s just there to tick another box. She plays De Niro’s love interest, who wants him to retire.
There is some controversy about Brando, as always, clashing with director Frank Oz (The Dark Crystal, Bowfinger). They disagreed with the way the character was being presented. Unlike some of his other films, there is no sign of this in The Score. Brando is on form and it’s a good performance for his final role.
Other than that though there isn’t much to say about the film. It’s a very well made film. The plot moves along nicely, it doesn’t ever drag. It’s just you’ve seen it before and there are better heist movies. Watching this twenty years after release, when we’ve had the Ocean’s films and Logan Lucky to name a couple, it just makes The Score feel very formulaic. It is in no way a bad film, but it doesn’t do anything different. The story has been done before and since in every which way. For a heist film to stand out, it really needs to be different and this just isn’t.
The performances are great, everything else is decent. If this is your first heist film, you’re going to have a good time. If you’re a fan of the genre it’s still a decent film, but you aren’t going to remember it for long after the credits. It’s surprising that a film with a cast like this isn’t more fondly remembered, and that says everything.