The Score (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/09/2001

Three out of five stars
Running time: 123 mins

Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton each have one thing in common – at some point during their careers, they have all been referred to as "the greatest actor of his generation".

DeNiro and Brando even shared the same part (Vito Corleone in the Godfather movies), but this is the first time they have appeared on screen together and that alone would make this film worth seeing. (On balance, we can be thankful that Norton replaced original choice Ben Affleck).

The plot is familiar from a thousand similar movies. Robert DeNiro stars as Nick, a Montreal jazz-club owner by day and a master-criminal by night. He has two cardinal rules: he never does a job in his home town, and he always works alone.

However, Nick’s getting on a bit and decides he wants to settle down with his girlfriend (the criminally under-used Angela Bassett), but when his mentor-cum-fence Max (Brando) tempts him with the huge ‘score’ of the title, he reluctantly agrees to the time-honoured ‘one last heist’.

Predictably though it means breaking both his cardinal rules – the first by robbing the Montreal Customs House and the second by working with Jack (Edward Norton), Max’s inside man on the job.

It’s easy to see what drew Norton to the part, as he has by far the showiest role. His role as the inside man allows him to create a different character as a cover, so he also gets to play 'Brian’, a mentally-retarded janitor complete with his own catch-phrase ("Okaythankyou"), which is destined to become imitated in pubs in the very near future.

This has the added bonus for the audience of seeing Norton ‘acting’ – the scenes where he suddenly ‘switches Brian off’ are very effective.

Brando’s role, on the other hand, is essentially an extended cameo, but he still reveals a little of the old magic, making his character a rather camp old dandy and obviously enjoying himself into the bargain.

One reviewer has already dubbed him ‘Crazy Uncle Brando’ and that seems an apt a description as any, since it hints at the unpredictability of his performance.

That said, the rumours appear to be true that he didn’t get on with director Frank Oz, with tactics ranging from not wearing trousers on camera to suggesting that Oz (the creator of Miss Piggy) might get better control and direction if he placed his hand in the traditional puppeteering place.

With Crazy Uncle Brando on one side and Norton doing a sub-Rain-Man act on the other, you’d think that DeNiro would have his work cut out for him. However, he holds the film together with a quietly impressive performance, which may look like coasting but is in fact equally impressive.

Oz may seem an initially surprising choice as director (he’s best known for comedies such as Bowfinger and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), but he delivers the goods, with some impressive Montreal location-work and a set piece heist scene that’s both refreshingly different and clinically precise (apparently thanks to a real-life on-set con ‘adviser’, who was subsequently picked up by the FBI).

In short, then, though the story may be predictable and the ending a tad on the anti-climactic side, The Score is still a cut above the majority of this year’s summer movies and remains a competent crime picture that’s worth seeing thanks to its excellent cast.

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The Score (15)
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Content updated: 23/10/2017 18:12

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