The Score
Starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando. Directed by Frank Oz. Rated R.
Rated 3.0 The Score is a heist film, and for some of us that may be all that needs to be said. It’s a well-established but infrequently revisited genre that has a number of sure-fire ingredients: technological gimmicks, an elaborately-planned caper, a tough-minded love story (which just happens to be interracial as well), screw-ups and double-crosses, and just enough character twists to keep the suspense and the stakes on the rise.

No matter that it pivots on a shopworn cliché—the veteran criminal pulling one last job and then going legit. No matter that Marlon Brando looks like a parody of himself, simpering heftily in sub-Rod Steiger fashion. No matter that Edward Norton seems better when he’s doing his Rainman take-off than when he’s playing his supposedly true character.

Actually, Norton is pretty good overall, and Robert De Niro is rock-solid in the key role, a Montreal club-owner who moonlights as a high-tech, big-bucks safecracker. The Quebec setting is part of the movie’s charm, and director Frank Oz makes the most of the story’s blend of high-tech caper, urban noir, and honor-among-thieves drama. It’s a crisply efficient thriller with occasional moments of stunning brilliance.

Along the way, The Score gets in some satire on computer geeks and hackers and makes a quiet case for life in the city of Montreal. Angela Bassett gets maximum impact out of her brief moments in the film, and Gary Farmer lends amusing tough-guy support.

Music great Mose Allison makes a brief appearance as a lounge singer at the De Niro character’s bar.