It had been called, “The battle of the method actors!!” With Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando, and relative newcomer Edward Norton, I walked in expecting to see richly developed characters that interacted well and told a great story. For the most part, I was right. While I didn’t have any problems with the actors, I had some script issues. For a movie that was sold in its previews and TV spots as a fast paced, action movie, The Score was anything but. The first hour felt like root canal with what I felt was a completely unnecessary love story between Nick (DeNiro) and Angela Bassett, who holds one of only two female parts that had lines.
Here we have the lovely Angela Bassett, whose character’s only real reason for existence is so the audience can see that Nick is “just a normal guy”. He has a girlfriend, he owns a jazz club in Quebec, and doesn’t take his work home with him. The only problem with this is that there isn’t enough detail to make this little sub-plot worth watching. He says he’s going to give up his quarter century life of crime and settle down, but this multi-million dollar job invariably gets in the way. So, she leaves him. Then, as the film ends, we see them together and happy again. There just isn’t enough said about their relationship and the interaction between man and woman.
Marlon Brando’s role was too small, and his relationship with DeNiro was under developed. The two characters have been stealing and fencing together for the last 25 years, yet only once or twice do we see the inherent friendship that invariably develops after such a long, close relationship. I’m not saying Brando wasn’t good in the film. I loved his character, and the depths to which immersed himself into said character was obvious. Once again, the writers failed.
Norton’s betrayal of Nick near the film's climax was telegraphed too much. First off, they showed you the betrayal scene in the trailers. I already knew it was going to happen. It could have provided more “What the heck??” punch if there had been fewer blatant indications that it was going to happen. I also had a problem with the sudden shift in Norton’s behavior. They attempt to show you the moment when Norton decides to betray his new partner, but it comes off as indecision, as if he’s unsure if he even wants to finish the job.
I was surprised to see that Frank Oz, more commonly known as the voice of Yoda, from the Star Wars franchise directed The Score. I’ve seen his work as a director before, but it has all been comedy, the most memorable of them being the 1986 screen version of Little Shop of Horrors. Seeing his name in the opening credits mad me a little nervous, given his prevalence for directing comedy. But I was pleasantly surprised. Poor writing notwithstanding, Oz makes his entrance to the world of dramatic directing well.
To sum it all up, The Score doesn’t score well in the writing category. Too much was underdeveloped, and some of what was there was unnecessary. Despite its wonderful cast, The Score is really nothing more than Friday night rental fodder. I went in expecting a lot, but came out with a rather bitter taste in my mouth, and it wasn’t from the Sour Patch Kids.