The Score (2001)

Directed by Frank Oz
Written by Lem Dobbs, Kario Salem & Scott Marshall Smith, based on a story by Kario Salem & Daniel E. Taylor
Starring Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando, Angela Bassett, Gary Farmer

My Advice: Wait and Rent It.

Nick (DeNiro) is a burglar. He's a damn good burglar, in fact. So good, that he's got a sweet little jazz club he owns up in Montreal, along with the lovely Diane (Bassett) that he wants to settle down with. He's had it, he's out of the biz, he's through. Ah, but it's never that easy, is it? Nope. His buddy and coordinator, Max (Brando), has a job that would take care of everybody's problems. And new kid on the block (thievery-wise, not singing group-wise), Jack (Norton), is a key player. The job seems messy, but is it too good to pass up?

There's something to be said for a film that manages to get the three best actors of their respective generations, and put them on screen together. You could take the same cast and do another Killer Tomatoes sequel, and it would still be worthwhile to watch. Hell, Angela Bassett is given absolutely, positively nothing to do in this movie--but who could blame her for taking the role? How often do you get to work with these guys all at one time? Brando is positively amazing, and when you take into account all of the stories about him not being able to memorize lines and whatnot--and he's still this good? Just damn. DeNiro is DeNiro, always quality, and Norton manages to do his dual personality thing again but keep it fresh. Good stuff, people.

Okay, enough cinema geek boy gushing. Down to brass tacks. There's more going on here than just The Thespian Triumvirate. Frank Oz is known to some as the comedic director of Bowfinger and In & Out and known to more as the muppeteer behind such timeless characters as Yoda and Grover. He's making his debut as a director of non-comedies with this outing, and he's not too shabby. He knows how to create tension well and keep a story moving. So kudos to him. Kudos to the writers as well, for coming up with the coolest safe-cracking manuever since I don't know when.

The film takes its time, dealing more with the setup of the caper than the caper itself--but make no mistake, this is, at its heart, a caper flick. And although it's not an exceptional film on its own, it's still probably the most enjoyable caper flick you'll have, at least under Heist shows up sometime next month. And despite the efforts of those jackasses in Hollywood, they still managed to keep some decent twistage out of the commercials and trailers. For the most part, it's just a good movie--if you need one of those these days, check out a matinee. But you won't be missing anything if you rent it later on.

Buy it on DVD from Amazon!
Buy the musical score on CD from Amazon!

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