The Score (2001 film)
|Directed by||Frank Oz|
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Edited by||Richard Pearson|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|July 13, 2001|
|Box office||$114.3 million|
The Score is a 2001 American heist film directed by Frank Oz, and starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando in his final film role. It was the only time that Brando and De Niro appeared onscreen together. The screenplay was based on a story by Daniel E. Taylor and Kario Salem.
After nearly being caught on a routine burglary, master safe-cracker Nick Wells decides the time has finally come to retire from his criminal activities. He shares this idea with his girlfriend Diane, offering to live together and open a legitimate restaurant.
He is enticed into taking one final score by his fence Max. The job, worth a $4 million payoff to Nick, is to steal a sceptre, a French national treasure stored in the ultra-secure basement of the Montréal Customs House. The sceptre was discovered by Customs agents being smuggled into Canada. Max introduces Nick to Jack Teller, an ambitious thief who has infiltrated the Customs House and gained security information by acting as a mentally-challenged janitor.
The plot includes the initial distrust from Nick towards Jack, and their settlement in order to do the job. After agreeing with Max that Nick is in charge of the operation, and making a truce between them, they begin working together to build a plan and to find access to the Customs House basement.
The plot also includes the disappointment of Nick's girlfriend, Diane, due to Nick's motives to do this last score (have enough money to get full ownership of his Jazz Club, and to have a comfortable life with Diane), after she happily agreed to start a new life with him. She leaves Nick disappointed and reconsiders their ongoing relationship.
Another complication arises as Jack is not able to get the codes for the Security System of the Customs House. Nick then seeks help from a trusted associate, Steven, a computer hacker who has worked with Nick on past jobs. Steven hacks into the Custom House's security system to obtain the bypass codes so they can temporarily manipulate the alert protocols of the system during the heist. He is caught, however, by a corrupt systems administrator of the Security company (Ironclad) who extorts Nick for $50,000 in order to give them the information.
The exchange of money and codes is made at a public park, at the corrupt administrator's request, and a tense moment involving guns arises, while Jack, Nick and Steven confirm the codes in real time, using a radio and a cell phone to communicate between them. After this event, Nick firmly orders Jack not to carry a gun again ever, even if it helped control the situation at the park.
One more complication appears as Nick discovers the safe cannot be opened, using the tools and procedures he masters, so he needs to find a way to open it within the short time frame allowed by the schedule planned for the night of the heist.
After seeing an accident in the street involving a beer keg being opened by the pressure of the liquid inside, Nicks figures a way to open the safe. The day after this, at his secret workshop, Nick explains how he will open the safe to Jack. Nick tells Jack that, after the score, Jack must remain in his job so no suspicions arise regarding who planned the job, and Jack must also wait for his share of the money after Nick and Max finish the transaction with the final buyer. At first Jack does not agree to these terms and insists on being present during the rest of the transaction with Max, but Nick pushes his decision so Jack reluctantly agrees to follow Nick's orders.
A few days before the score, Nick and Jack have a conversation in Nick's Jazz Club, where Nick advises Jack to make a list of goals, and to take life slow and smartly, in order to achieve them. After this, Nick abruptly ends the conversation and goes to meet Diane, who is visiting him at the Jazz Club, while Jack observes their encounter at a distance.
Still yet another complication arises when they are forced to move up their timetable after the Customs House becomes aware of the sceptre's value and adds extra closed-circuit television cameras and infrared detectors to monitor the basement room while preparing to return it to its rightful owners.
At this point, Nick feels the job is too risky after all these complications and wants to pull out, but Max implores him to do it so he can pay a mafia boss the 4 million Max owes him. Nick reluctantly agrees to continue and finishes the details of the plan with Jack at a restaurant.
The night of the score, Nick uses a sewer tunnel to enter the Customs House basement as Jack rigs the cameras to shut off when Nick enters the storage room. A fellow janitor stumbles upon Jack, who locks the janitor in a closet. Nick fills the enormous in-floor safe containing the sceptre with water before inserting and detonating a depth charge to blow off the door. He quickly packs up the sceptre in a carrying case to depart, but Jack double crosses him and at gunpoint demands he hand it over. Nick reluctantly gives up the carrying case and seconds later the alarm, rigged by Jack, alerts the entire security staff to the heist. Nick darts for the sewer entrance he came in through as Jack heads back upstairs, tucking the carrying case inside his janitor jumpsuit and slipping past the incoming police units responding to the burglary. Nick escapes the security guards chasing him through the sewer tunnels.
After making it to a bus station to flee the city, Jack calls Nick to gloat, and says Nick should have shown him respect and shouldn't have forced him to play second fiddle during the job since he was the one who brought the job to Max, but he is shocked to discover that Nick anticipated Jack's actions. Jack opens the carrying case Nick gave him and finds it contains a steel rod weighed down with various bushings they used during the planning of the job. Brushing off Jack's threats of vengeance, Nick advises Jack to flee as "every cop in the city" will now be looking for him. Nick hangs up and boards a boat with the real sceptre as a shocked Jack broods over his situation. Later, Max smiles as he watches a news broadcast reporting a massive manhunt being organized to find Jack, the prime suspect, and an unidentified accomplice. Nick then meets his girlfriend Diane at Montreal Mirabel International airport as she returns from work, and they embrace.
- Robert De Niro as Nick Wells
- Edward Norton as Jack Teller
- Marlon Brando as Max
- Angela Bassett as Diane
- Gary Farmer as Burt
- Jamie Harrold as Steven
- Paul Soles as Danny
During the production, Brando repeatedly argued with Oz and called him "Miss Piggy", the Muppet whom Oz played from 1976 to 2001. Brando's eccentric behavior on set included performing scenes in his underwear and altogether refusing to be directed by Oz at times, having co-star DeNiro take over with Oz instructing via an assistant director, an allegation that Oz denied flatly. "There was one scene–two days of shooting–when Marlon was too upset with me to act while I was on the set," Oz stated. "I watched from outside, with a monitor, and Bob was very good and acted as mediator between us."
Deceased screenwriter Scott Marshall Smith joined the crew late and received a writing credit. 
Oz downplayed the conflict after the film's release, taking unspoken note of the reported tension on the movie's Montreal set:
He's a very sweet, gracious -- childlike in some ways -- very, very humane, very complex person. But I can't say that we got along all the time. And it wasn't because he was difficult; it was a difficult situation. I don't want to do a puffery piece here, I want to be flat-out true: We had a difference in creative interpretation of the role. He felt one way, quite sincerely and earnestly, and I felt the other, and the producers backed me, which I'm grateful for, and Marlon did come around to my side.
Oz later blamed himself for the tension and cited his tendency to be confrontational rather than nurturing in response to Brando's acting style.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 11, 2001.
In its opening weekend, the film opened at #2 in the U.S. box office raking in $19 million, behind Legally Blonde. After its July 13, 2001 opening, the $68 million film earned a gross domestic box office take of $71,107,711. Combined with the international box office, the worldwide total is $113,579,918.
On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a "Certified Fresh" 73% rating based on 128 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though the movie treads familiar ground in the heist/caper genre, De Niro, Norton, and Brando make the movie worth watching." On Metacritic the film has a score of 71% based on reviews from 29 critics.
Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone, pointed out that when "two Don Corleones team up", he expected "the kind of movie that makes people say, 'I'd pay to see these guys just read from the phone book.'" However, he concluded, "There's nothing you can't see coming in this flick, including the surprise ending. Quick, somebody get a phone book."
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