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Movie Review

The Score

MPAA Rating: R for language

Reviewed by: Carole McDonnell
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure
Length:
2 hr.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
July 13, 2001
Relevant Issues
Scene from “The Score”
Featuring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett, Marlon Brando, Jamie Harrold
Director: Frank Oz
Producer: Gary Foster, Lee Rich
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Scene from “The Score”

In “The Score”, ace thief Nick (Robert De Niro) is called into action against his will. Nick says he’s ready to settle down with his flight attendant girlfriend (Angela Bassett) but when Max (Marlon Brando) tells him about a sceptre—a national treasure from France that happens to be in the Montreal customs—Nick decides to break his rule about stealing in his own city. In fact, methodical Nick ends up breaking most of his rules, including his rule against working with a partner. Of all the partners in the world, he ends up with touchy control-freak Jack (Edward Norton.)

We all know what will happen in heist movies like “The Score”. that’s why we love them. The heist film is about teamwork and betrayal. We know that someone will betray the group… someone too unstable, or too emotional or too paranoid or too inexperienced. The heist film is about hubris: the baddies will successfully puzzle their way in and out of some impossible situation only to be destroyed by the law, fate or each other. The heist film is a guilty pleasure because although the viewer knows that the main characters are breaking one of the ten commandments, we sincerely want them to get away with their crime. The payoff for this kind of film is our reliance on the movie—truth that there is no honor among thieves and bad guys get punished sooner or later… even if we like them, especially if we like them. We identify with the bad guys to our regret… and we love the payoff, regret and all.

Perhaps that is why “The Score” doesn’t quite work, while a much better heist film, “City of Industry”, worked so well. don’t get me wrong. This is an enjoyable film. As usual, the bad guys are so industrious and so used to living their dreams (above their means) one wonders why they don’t just use that savvy of theirs to work decent normal jobs? The actors are all wonderful, the Montreal Customs House suitably difficult to conquer.

But the film’s ending is not satisfying. We smirk, yes. But we are not really touched. We have a crime, but the punishment seems uneven and petty. True, this is a fairly non-violent movie, but when was the last time you saw a heist film in which someone actually got away? And do we really think anyone “deserves” to get away?

Part of the greatness of a good heist film is the grief we experience when our favorite bad guy bites the bullet. Remember Cagney and Bogart? We understood how the bad guys thought. We understood their needs and fears. But we also knew that crime did not pay and the relentless power of the law would do our favorite baddie in.

As for the “good” guys, the only “real” good guys are represented by the security guards and a janitor. These good people are guys who treat handicapped people well and who live normal regular lives. While watching this film, Christian parents will have to remind our children that they spent the whole movie rooting for the bad guys to win in a world where—apparently—there is no law or order to balance the moral order.

Christians will wonder at the fact that all this industrious work is done for mere Earthly treasure. A Christian parent might also remind her teenager that it’s not the crime that disgusts audiences nowadays. it’s whether or not the bad guy has a nice personality. Is the audience supposed to be satisfied with such a small payoff? The trailer for this movie states, “One will get away.” But if two people are walking down the wrong road, why should we be happy that one will be punished and yet jump for joy that the other has escaped?

“The Score” is heavy on language (at least 44 uses of the “f” word and about 16 religious profanities according to ScreenIt!). Sexuality is also present, though not as explicit as many other “R” rated films.


Viewer Comments
I liked this movie. There was swearing, but not much compared to other R movies. Yes, there were good guys and bad guys but the movie content was fine. No blood, gore or sex scenes. It kept me on the edge of my seat and not feeling guilty that I went to it when I walked out of the theatre.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Terri, age 38
This movie to me was a very well directed film, it was definitely suspenseful during some of the climatic scenes. The language was pretty bad, but it seemed to be believable considering their roles. Robert De Niro played a great part, and I really enjoyed the way that Brian (I don’t know his really name) was able to switch roles the way he did. It also had a great twist that I won’t ruin for you! I would personally recommend this for a mature audience.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Chris Crisafulli, age 29
My count on foul language was 59. Religious slamming (J.C. in vain) was 14. I may have missed some. Other than that (and an implied sexual encounter), we actually enjoyed the movie. About 25 minutes could’ve been cut (slicing the language could’ve provided a lot of that) and it might have been better. Norton did a convincing job, Deniro was good. I’m mixed on Brando’s performance. Ending was decent.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Tim Emmerich, age 34
Being a fan of Edward Norton and Robert De Niro, I knew this was a movie that I had to see, and I am glad I did. Leaving the theater, I did not feel corrupted, as with most films. Strong language was used, but it wasn’t thrown about carelessy without restraint. I was aware of the sexual relationship between Angela Basset and DeNiro, but I didn’t have to see the “mechanics” of it. All in all, I found The Score to be a highly entertaining film, which is all I ever really expected.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Emily Beck, age 18
In a summer filled with a lot of junk when it comes to movies, what I found in “The Score” were two things. 1. This is one of the most involving caper pictures of memory. (Will anything beat out Kubrick’s “The Killing”? No, probably not.) It was focussed on the plot, and it didn’t let up. Now, one way I think it could’ve been better would’ve been to have more of an emotional core. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. 2. Here we have a rare acting treat. Marlon Brando, a Hollywood legend. Robert De Niro, pretty much a Hollywood legend. Edward Norton, one of the very best actors of his generation, will be a Hollywood legend. What more could you ask for in a movie? I did like the fact that so much of the film was about the styles of these different criminals. The plot wasn’t contrived and I appreciated the fact that the film doesn’t turn into a massive shootout with an enormous body count of extras at the end. Again, it kept its focus. It accomplished what it wanted to, and was extremely enjoyable to watch. I highly recommend it.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Jason Eaken, age 17
I am a fan of Edward Norton so I checked this one out. It was the usual heist movie story-line. Although I thought the actors did a good job, the movie was a little long and drawn out at points. The movie definitely wasn’t thought provoking. I don’t really think the movie was worth seeing.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Chris, age 23
I thought that this was a good movie, but I did have a problem with all the objectional language in this movie. But other than that I thought it was pretty good. The main character Robert De Niro wanted to settle down with his girlfriend Angela Basset.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Anonymous, age 17
Movie Critics
…explores the thinking side of crime without glorifying the criminal’s life…
—Phil Villareal, Arizona Daily Star
…a smart, satisfying throwback to the days when editing still allowed for a little breathing room…
—Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…smart, tense, clever, and methodical…
—Entertainment Weekly