Saturday, 21 August 2010

No.54 : The Score

Three acting giants get together for this somewhat routine heist movie. When you have Marlon Brando. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton on the cast list you’d expect something a bit more substantial but I imagine that after all the salaries were paid there was precious little left for the script. The film does have its charms but for the most part that lasting impression is of one ‘is that it?’

De Niro plays an aging safecracker who comes close to being undone in a pretty tense opening sequence. His near miss gives him pause for thought and he’s keen to retire and settle down with sexy air hostess Angela Bassett and manage his swanky jazz club.

His plans are put on the back burner however when his massive and mumbling fence, Marlon Brando, advises that the buyer for his last score has snuffed it and asks that he takes on one last job to put them all on easy Street. De Niro is reluctant at first but is soon talked around and is seduced by the challenge of the job.

The Score is in De Niro’s home town of Montreal and taking it on breaks one of the many rules that he observes and have kept him safe for his whole career. The heist involves the stealing of a $30 million sceptre from the customs house and requires the assistance of an inside man in the shape of Edward Norton. Ed has got a job in the customs house by developing an act of being a bit retarded and has gained access to all of the secure rooms and systems.

There are a few bumps in the planning, such as obtaining computer codes from a corrupt programmer, but essentially the film is a build up to the elaborate robbery and the fall out afterwards. Will the old thief get away clean or will the obvious twist and even more obvious double twist come about?

I always enjoy a good robbery flick and ‘The Score’ doesn’t disappoint. It’s no classic like the nerve jangling ‘Rififi’, but the pace and the planning are well handled making the whole scheme believable. For the most part it’s a two man show between De Niro, the wily old thief, and Norton the young super confident upstart. Brando gets high billing but he only gets a couple of scenes and frankly his part could have been jettisoned with no loss to the film’s narrative or quality. De Niro’s motivations towards him are poorly defined and why he doesn’t tell him to bugger off when he realises he’s getting 20% of the take for doing all the work is inconsistent with the character development that far.

De Niro is great as always and Norton impresses with a double role as the cocky bigmouth and his alter ego spanner character Brian. Angela Bassett could’ve been given more to do and I imagine her appearance was contractual to De Niro who is known to like ladies of colour.

The heist itself is done well with each of the two main characters encountering different impediments to the scheme . In truth the heist itself is secondary to our concerns for the elderly janitor who has befriended ‘Brian’. The scheme itself was ingenious and what seemed impossible was slowly dismantled into a plausible robbery. The fall out however was a bit of a letdown with two consecutive twists signalled from a long way off.

The film is an enjoyable one but given the cast list it’s probably a bit less than you’d be entitled to expect.

THE Tag Line : The Score? 7/10 70%

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