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Overall Rating
3.64

Awesome: 17.8%
Worth A Look44.07%
Average: 25.42%
Pretty Bad: 10.17%
Total Crap: 2.54%

7 reviews, 76 user ratings


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Score, The (2001)
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by Collin Souter

"Brando steals from the thieves"
4 stars

Some movies succeed on their ideas, but fail through execution. Some movies succeed on execution, but fail through mis-casting. Some peeter out after the first 10 minutes and some actually get better as they progress. “The Score” has one of the more frustrating of success stories: It succeeds mostly through its cast. The storyline about a crook who wants to do one last heist before retirement feels almost as original and fresh as a movie trailer where a character says, “I’m getting too old for this sh—(BANG!)” However, to dismiss “The Score” as just another movie with a good cast but poor story would be to undermine its entertainment value. “The Score” makes for great summer entertainment, and just in time, too.

Dream casts have failed in the past. Who would have thought that a movie starring Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman would result in a punch line to every bad movie joke? (I’m pro-“Ishtar,” by the way). And does anyone even remember the names of the two movies that cast Jack Nicholson opposite Meryl Streep? I do, but it seems like everyone else would, too, had the movies been more successful. A great cast can often seem like a can’t-lose situation. “The Score” casts Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton and the great Marlon Brando in a conventional heist movie about a boss (Brando), his best thief (DeNiro), and a cocky newcomer (Norton). It can’t lose. It does, however, beg the question, why cast three of the best actors on the planet together for one movie if the movie itself lacks originality?

Okay, fine, but since the movie does have some wit, fun and, yes, a bit of intelligence, the casting of Norton, Brando and DeNiro will be the last thing I’ll complain about. I can’t help it. The second these three appeared on screen together, I forgot about all the infestations that have plagued our cinemas in the past few months. What a joy to see Brando stealing scenes from his two co-stars, even though he looks about as healthy as a greasy onion-and-bacon cheddar-burger with a side order of fluffenutter and straight cream cheese, with a tequila chaser. No matter. He still has it and he’s not afraid to use it, even for a fun summer blockbuster.

Obviously, DeNiro can hold his own with anybody and he has always been a force to be reckoned with. His performance stands out the least amongst the three, but his scenes with Angela Bassett, who plays his girlfriend who wants him to go straight, have a gentleness that we don’t see too often from DeNiro. The same quality also elevated “15 Minutes” slightly above the level of tame action movie. DeNiro, who dons his Harry Tuttle outfit from “Brazil,” has his best moment towards the end, which I can’t give away. Let’s just say something goes wrong, as you would expect anyway. His reaction to this twist reminds us why everyone wants to cast him: He has the power to make ANY scene worth watching. He makes it his own, refusing to bore us.

The same applies to Brando, of course, and Edward Norton, who can spend a movie vending stale hot dogs outside Wrigley Field and I’d be riveted. Here, he gets to do a dual-role. When we first meet him, he cocks his head, doesn’t make eye contact and speaks as a mentally deficient man-child named Brian. He uses this personality to dupe his bosses at a storage facility into thinking of him as a charity case while he plots the perfect thievery of a priceless jewel that resides under their roof. He has them, and us, in the palm of his hands.

It shouldn’t be too hard for you to put the pieces of the plot together from what little I described, but the dynamic of the three principles makes the movie crackle with intensity. Brando plays the boss with a terrific sense of humor that we haven’t seen from him since “The Freshman,” where he parodied his “Godfather” persona. After DeNiro meets Norton, he asks Brando, “What, have you lost your mind?” Brando replies with a laugh, “Well, yeah, about 10 or 15 years ago, why?” Could this have been a sly re-write by Brando, further parodying his image?

The relationship between DeNiro and Norton propels the story, though, as DeNiro undermines Norton’s abilities while Norton seems all too eager to play DeNiro for a fool. They want each other’s trust, but how does one trust a thief?

Credit should also go to Frank Oz just for having the balls of steel for taking on a project with this much ego in the room. Oz has mostly been known for directing some great comedies (“Bowfinger,” “Little Shop Of Horrors,” and “What About Bob?” to name a few) and for being Jim Henson’s right-hand man on The Muppets. Oz, as it turns out, has just as good a gift for suspense as he does comedy and puppetry. I can’t specifically say he knows how to handle scenes with the three leads, since stories have been leaking out lately that Oz didn’t even exist in the same room with Brando during his scenes. Allegedly, DeNiro directed the scenes with Brando while Brando would yell to Oz, ‘Just stand over there and leave me alone, Miss Piggy.’ Allegedly.

However, Oz does make the mistake of wasting Angela Bassett, one of the best actresses working today. She has a few scenes with DeNiro where she basically provides the voice of DeNiro’s conscience telling him to get out of the heist business altogether. We know the routine and, basically, Oz reduces her role to just that. She stands waiting in the wings for her man to grow up. Bassett deserves better.

For all its shortcomings, I still have no problem recommending “The Score.” Most movies this year that I have liked have some sort of * next to the recommendation, whereby I say to people, “Yeah, I liked it, but…” “The Score” fits the bill perfectly for people who want to see clear, concise storytelling, a suspenseful heist movie with a sense of humor, and above all, great performances from a dream cast of actors who compliment one another perfectly. A tall order these days, so enjoy this one while you can.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5476&reviewer=233
originally posted: 07/15/01 03:37:23
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User Comments

2/20/19 Anne Predictable and boring 1 stars
10/21/10 Jeff Wilder Good if you like seeing great actors sleepwalk or underused. The script is weak. 2 stars
3/02/10 PAUL SHORTT SOLID PIECE OF OLD FASHIONED GENRE WORK, WITH A GREAT CAST 3 stars
8/29/08 Shaun Wallner This one was kinda boring. 2 stars
5/19/08 Jack Sommersby Simply dreadful, uninteresting garbage with nondescript performances. 1 stars
4/07/07 Zanne Norton the only reason to bother.DeNiro walks through.Brando a wreck but sparks here&there 3 stars
1/15/06 Jerome Bosch Could have been worsem could have been Toronto... 4 stars
9/07/05 Indrid Cold Perfectly average movie that just happens to have three of the greatest actors of all time. 3 stars
8/30/05 ES I liked it, fast paced, great Brando apperance all shot in Montreal 4 stars
6/13/05 Agent Sands Strong cast & great twist ending make a worthy entry in the heist genre. Yes, it is a genre 4 stars
11/16/04 Naka Very, very mediocre. 3 stars
10/23/04 UMER brando was wasted but everything else worked 3 stars
10/15/04 Rose Ed Norton is soooooo gorgeous in this film !!! Also it is very clever and funny 5 stars
9/26/04 Mel Gibson's Boyfriend Norton makes a good scumbag but the story is just adequate at best 3 stars
8/05/04 tatum Strong heist flick, great direction, cinematography, and acting 4 stars
3/22/04 john a great cast in a clever, fast paced and exiting thriller - a good time at the movies! 4 stars
5/22/03 Francis What was there about this very average plot that attracted these actors? 3 stars
5/16/03 Piz A snoozer at first but gets better, as soon as it gets good, it's over 3 stars
5/14/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back Mo'Fos!!!) The whole cast is awesome, and the big get-even ending is one of the best ever. 5 stars
10/30/02 spacecowboy it's got a nice pace...and two great actors. awesome. 5 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 It seemed short. And I'm getting sick of Norton playing retards, he's better than that. 2 stars
8/07/02 The Man Takes an old formula and fills the end with high tension. Surprisingly good. 5 stars
7/26/02 sdjfsdkjf fuckkkkk what a mother of a slow start. The actual heist is brilliant but the film? Nah. 3 stars
7/25/02 ALFABOY what a waste of talent 1 stars
4/22/02 natasha some nice visuals, love Norton and DeNiro 4 stars
4/10/02 The Bomb 69 predictable ending,why does DeNiro break every rule he said he hasn't for the past 25 years 3 stars
2/24/02 R.W. Welch Lags a bit in spots but has a nice professsional edge to it. 4 stars
1/30/02 Phil M. Afficianado Really solid and engaging characters, story, and film production. Heist-plus (adds acting) 4 stars
1/29/02 John Slow for the first 3/4 s but an entertaining show of two great actors. 4 stars
1/23/02 Max Lethal No suspense - very predictable - a big waste of 2 hours. Rent something else. 2 stars
1/14/02 Andrew Carden Big Names, Nice Movie, Watchable, It's Over With. 4 stars
1/06/02 Monday Morning Excellent acting and moviemaking. This is a great film. 5 stars
1/02/02 Katre Let's give it to Norton again. 4 stars
12/28/01 paul just an average heist movie, with the cast of the year.... 4 stars
12/13/01 masin wolliams best viewed after midnight with a beer or two in you 4 stars
12/07/01 Dominik Duprelle Great Jazz club. Brando is a Zip Code. De Niro downloads another performance. humdrum. 3 stars
12/01/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! very interesting!!! Edward Norton... RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/01/01 Phoenix Your typical heist movie, but with names like De Niro, Norton, and Brando who cares. 4 stars
11/17/01 daniboy agree completely with Poot. still good popcorn flick 4 stars
10/23/01 Big 'un good plot but the ending was predictable. 4 stars
10/23/01 Poot DeNiro, Norton and Brando and it's still only 'Worth a look'. Disappointing. 4 stars
9/16/01 Mr. Hat THIS MOVIE ROCKS! ROBERT DE NIRO ONCE AGAIN KICKS BOOTY! 5 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean Smooth ending, but forgettable. Brando looked like shit 3 stars
8/23/01 Baphomet Norton is tha best. No bullshit action tacked on. Suspenseful n' Phun!!! 'nuf said!!! 5 stars
8/17/01 Obi Wan Very good. Loved the last 20 minutes of the film. 4 stars
8/14/01 puckfreak Pretty good movie, Brando is disgusting. 4 stars
7/31/01 Elvisfan Enjoyed Jamie Harrold, which says alot about the leads who were comatose at best, story OK 3 stars
7/28/01 Suzz fun caper film 4 stars
7/27/01 Crisis Management Intelligent caper movie, doesn't pretend to be anything else. No dumb 'action' here. 4 stars
7/25/01 Rita Dickinson I have a new favorite actor in Ed Norton 4 stars
7/25/01 Piz Well put-together and thought out, smooth flow, ended to abruptly for my taste 4 stars
7/24/01 SJKelley How did DeNiro's girlfriend go from willing courier to "quit or I leave?" 2 stars
7/24/01 Skiv Best movie I've seen this summer! 5 stars
7/24/01 Kurt Huber I was expecting a better movie, without the big names this one goes straight to video 3 stars
7/23/01 Will the three leads kick ass. story so-so. enjoyable, though. 4 stars
7/22/01 tnt Very interesting...pacing was like water slowly coming to boil! 4 stars
7/22/01 Blubberbot Pretty average movie. Maybe Average+ at times. 3 stars
7/21/01 sdfk We don't even bother anymore to disguise Montreal, so we set the movie there? 4 stars
7/20/01 svetlana ed norton is great fun wherever he goes 5 stars
7/20/01 Chris Best line from the movie: "I'm on the phone bitch!" 4 stars
7/20/01 Xalt Solid. Enjoyable. They even got most of it right. That alone rates a "coooool." 4 stars
7/20/01 malcolm more Angela Bassett !!! 3 stars
7/19/01 seldom scene more style than substance, Deniro is past his prime. cheap ending 3 stars
7/19/01 Hobbes I liked it better when it was called Ronin 2 stars
7/18/01 zeitgeist norton rocks. he owns this movie... 5 stars
7/17/01 Gay Tooth Fairy "You look like shit. What's your secret." Brando in The Score 4 stars
7/17/01 Obi Wan Loved it. I let the fact that it may have moved to slow slide. Very good. 5 stars
7/16/01 bobbuttons angela basset sucks. norton is the only reason to watch this. the preview gave it away... 3 stars
7/16/01 frank solid heist flick with three amazing actors 4 stars
7/15/01 Koitus Great acting, all around. Best part of the plot involved the computer hacker! 4 stars
7/15/01 Monster W. Kung Not a masterpiece, but really quite good. Brando, Norton and DeNiro were all great. 4 stars
7/15/01 rogue suspense was good, and norton was better, De Niro was the best! 5 stars
7/15/01 Max Cady Classy, suspensful and well-acted, THE SCORE is a fresh equation in summer movies. 5 stars
7/15/01 MaG I love tweakout computer person 4 stars
7/14/01 astrotart Ed Norton couldn't be better as a retard! 4 stars
7/14/01 Jimmy Krikit Hell yeah! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Jul-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  29-Nov-2001


Directed by
  Frank Oz

Written by
  Kario Salem
  Dan Taylor

Cast
  Robert DeNiro
  Edward Norton
  Marlon Brando
  Angela Bassett
  Mose Allison



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