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Score, The (2001, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando)

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One of the best heist movies in recent years, Frank Oz’s film sees three of cinema’s finest actors gathered for a genuine cliff-hanger. Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) is one of the best safe-crackers in the world. Ostensibly the owner of a Montreal night-club, he travels south of the border to steal at the behest of Max (Marlon Brando), a Sydney Greenstreet figure, but Nick’s getting old and wants to retire. Then Max offers him one last big payday – the theft of a priceless antique from the Montreal Customs House. And the bonus is that there’s an insider, Jack Teller (Edward Norton), who’s infiltrated the complex as a cleaner pretending to suffer from cerebral palsy while sussing out the security systems. But can the three trust each other and, more importantly, can Jack get Nick in and out again?

What makes this satisfying is that there’s not a car chase or gunfight in sight. Instead, Oz just lets the talent do the talking, with Norton more than holding his own against the two Godfathers as they set up the heist, particularly in his switch from cleaner to smart criminal (the scene where he first meets De Niro is superb). Inevitably, the climax is the heist, full of tensions, with a safe-blasting method probably unique to film, and the twist at the end is suitably satisfying (and believable). By all accounts, Brando was a nightmare to work with (the studio admitted to ‘creative differences’ between him and Oz) but the end result is a solid, enjoyable, well-plotted film that, thanks to the three leads, engages from the outset.

production details
USA | 124 minutes | 2001

Director: Frank Oz
Script: Lem Dobbs, Kario Salem, Scott Marshall Smith, Daniel E. Taylor,

cast
Robert De Niro as Nick Wells
Edward Norton as Jack Teller
Serge Houde as Laurent
Richard Zeman as Thug
Christian Tessier as Drunk
Angela Bassett as Diane
Marlon Brando as Max
Jamie Harrold as Steven
Mark Camacho as Sapperstein’s Cousin
Martin Drainville as Jean-Claude
Marie-Josée Colburn as Woman in Study
Bobby Brown as Tony
Maurice Demers as Philippe
Eric Hoziel as Ironclad Tech
Cassandra Wilson as Special Appearance
Norman Mikeal Berketa as Bureaucrat Official
Paul Soles as Danny
Gary Farmer as Burt
Claude Despins as Albert
Richard Waugh as Sapperstein
Thinh Truong Nguyen as Tuan
Carlo Essagian as Cop
Lenie Scoffié as Storekeeper
Mose Allison as Special Appearance
Jean-René Ouellet as André
Charles V. Doucet as Old Engineer
Pierre Drolet as Worker