Nick Wells (Robert DeNiro) is an aging thief that is looking to retire. He has enough money, owns a nice jazz club in Toronto and just wants to settle back. His occasional girlfriend, a flight attendant, (Angela Bassett), is thrilled to hear the news and offers to get her route transferred to Toronto. Nick's longtime fence, Max (Marlon Brando), comes to him with a proposition. There is an item in Toronto's Custom House that a customer will pay very handsomely for. Nick is initially reluctant. He never does a job in his hometown. It is too risky. But Brian (Edward Norton) has an inside connection.
"The Score", directed by Frank Oz, is the type of summer film that adults crave, yearn and salivate for. An intelligent film, with good to great performances, an involving story and great technical work. If you were brought up on MTV-style editing, forget about it. 'The Score' unfolds at a very deliberate pace, which some people have already commented is too slow. I disagree. The story unfolds slowly, in the first act, to incorporate a way of life that Nick is used to. As things gear up, so does the action. Oz has crafted a film that looks great, but doesn't push the style envelope too much.
DeNiro is, as usual, great. Nick Wells is tired and desperate to retire, but he wants to live a certain lifestyle and the lure of a sizable score brings him back into the fold. His character's relationship with Bassett's character is also good, but Bassett's character has about 15 minutes of screen time, if that. I found it interesting and fascinating to watch this character work and to get to know his life, likes and habits.
Norton creates a very unique and interesting character. To reveal too much about the character would reveal secrets about the film. Secrets that, unfortunately, the trailers and commercials reveal. Jackie is an interesting character, a novice thief who seems to bristle at the direction of the more experienced Nick. Norton is a great actor and he more than holds his own against DeNiro and Brando.
Brando is also very good. After a series of bizarre roles, he has toned down the theatrics quite a bit. Max Baron is a man afraid of losing his lifestyle as well. Since his lifestyle largely hinges on the work of Nick, he is hesitant to let Nick give up the work. Brando plays the role fairly simply. Occasionally, he does a bit of theatrical business but thankfully, no more wine buckets on his head.
I love caper and heist films. I love trying to figure out what is going to happen and to find out how the people carry the heist off. 'The Score' leads to a climatic robbery which is plotted extremely well. We follow Nick as he prepares for the heist, never revealing all of the plan, so that when the heist actually happens, there are still some surprises. This reminded me of a French film, from the 50s, called 'Riffifi'. Both films spend a lot of time detailing the preparations for the heist. Both films are very good and worth watching.
"The Score" is a handsome film, filled with interesting performances and an engaging story. Go see it. Go. Stop sitting at your computer reading web postings.