Reviewed by: Carole McDonnell
|Featuring||Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett, Marlon Brando, Jamie Harrold|
|Producer||Gary Foster, Lee Rich|
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.