The Score (2001 film)
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.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Frank Oz|
|Music by||Howard Shore|
|Edited by||Richard Pearson|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|July 13, 2001|
|Box office||$114.3 million|
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 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 information regarding security by acting as a mentally-challenged janitor.
Nick's trusted associate Steven hacks into the Custom House's security system to obtain the bypass codes, allowing them to temporarily manipulate the alert protocols of the system during the heist. Steven is caught, however, by a corrupt systems administrator who extorts Nick for $50,000 for the information. More complications arise 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.
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 but is shocked to discover that Nick has anticipated Jack's actions. Jack opens the carrying case Nick gave him and finds it contains a steel rod weighed down with various bushings. 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 the airport as she returns from work, and they embrace.
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."
Despite these reports, 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 an approval rating of 73% 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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