The Score (Second Review)
The heist is a clearly unworkable Rube Goldberg device of bypassed security, mechanical gizmos, and other such stuff, where the failure of any one of a hundred elements would spell instant disaster. But that’s what you accept when you watch a heist movie, or you shouldn’t watch it. You just sit back and watch it all revealed, as in classics like Topkapi and more recent capers like Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.
Robert De Niro is the old pro and Edward Norton is the brash newcomer on his way up. The plan is to steal a priceless (but worth $30,000,000 to someone) golden scepter from the insanely secure basement vault of the Montreal Customs House. De Niro wants to retire, but is persuaded to do this one last job. Where have you see that before? Angela Bassett is hardly in the film except to provide a love interest to De Niro, and to plead with him not to do the job. Where have you seen that before? The story is loaded with clichés like that, so it’s best to concentrate on the caper, which is first-rate. As usual, I can’t say much more, but will point out that being a brash young man in a movie like this is almost always a big mistake. De Niro: “When did you decide that you were smarter than me?”
It was directed by Frank Oz, quite a departure for him. And it was the last time Marlon Brando wallowed onto a set to make a movie. The dude really was the walrus at that point. And yet even when he phones in a part like here, we can see something special in the man, some little twist of character, a wry turn of the mouth. Somewhere in there is The Wild One, Stanley Kowalski, and Vito Corleone, and sometimes you can almost glimpse them. It’s a damn shame he was such a flake, and that he had no respect for his craft.