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Movie Reviews

The Score  

Directed by: Frank Oz

Long time robber Nick Wells (Robert de Niro) is ready to retire and leave behind a life of crime and uncertainty. After years of successfully robbing various artifacts and jewels and making a name for himself, Nick is willing to settle with his girlfriend Diane (Angela Bassett) and live the rest of his life managing a sleek jazz bar in Montreal. He is ready to move on with his life, but his plans are put on hold as longtime friend Max (Marlon Brando) offers him a job with a price that he just cannot refuse. For a large payout, Nick is to break into the Montreal Customs building and steal a treasured 17th century French scepter. Max already has someone working on the inside (Jack, played by Edward Norton), mastering the layout of the building. Although Nick is hesitant to work with a partner, he agrees nevertheless.

Just like 1995's "Heat" and the recent "Sexy Beast", "The Score" snatches us for another one-last-robbery adventure. For a typical heist movie, "The Score" must have been considered by some to be as slow as molasses in January. Most of the film seemed to be in cruise control, and it doesn't kick into high gear until the actual big robbery sequence in the last half hour or so. The film has a deliberate crawling pace, and I think director Frank Oz and the screenwriters hit the momentum just right, for the movie deals with very calculating minds. Nick and Jack are very detail-oriented guys. If they want to pull a stunt on one of the most guarded fortresses in Canada, they can't just rush things along. Everything needs to be in the right place at the right time, and this is what "The Score" captures.

The movie gets into the intricacies of the plan for cracking security codes, evading video cameras and figuring out a way to open a state of the art safe. It lets us know where the characters are coming from and what they know so far. We get to see how they eventually come up with the master plan. It's really a great way for us to get involved with their scheme, and "The Score" sets us up for a suspenseful final act.

With a cast of Oscar winners and nominees, de Niro, Norton, Bassett and Brando do no disappoint (what a surprise, huh). Although the film's trailers somewhat imply an equal billing for its stars, "The Score" is de Niro and Norton's all the way. These guys have such screen presence and they get totally absorbed into their roles. Bassett was hardly in the film, and Brando pops in every now and then, but they make the most of their parts.

"The Score" is a taut low-key action/drama. With its sleek look, great cast and an absorbing plot, "The Score" gets a high mark.

Film is Rated R for language. Running time is 120 minutes.


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