The Score

Year: 2001
Studio: Paramount
Director: Frank Oz
Writer: Daniel E Taylor/Kario Salem/Lem Dobbs/Scott Marshall Smith
Cast: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando, Angela Bassett

Ed Norton said about this film that for the chance to work with acting legends like Brando and De Niro, he'd do a reading of the phone book. And you can see his talent as an actor. Just like he schlepped lazily through The Italian Job remake because it was a contractual obligation, here he's putting everything into it and shining.

In fact it's only the presence of three titans of the performing arts, that raises this somewhat lacklustre heist thriller a few notches. Brando had long ago given up doing what a mere director wants by this point, famously showing up on set in full ladies make-up because his character was gay and treating director Oz with contempt. And De Niro, while solid, was in the early stages of his lazy, phoned-in streak. Somehow however they still manage to appear godfathers to Norton's upcoming wise guy.

Career crim Max (Brando), a recluse holed up in his decaying house, calls Nick (De Niro), one of his best men, to Montreal with a score that's almost risk free thanks to a guy he has inside, young Jack (Norton) who's pretending to be intellectually disabled in his job as a museum guard to lull co-workers into a false sense of security. Jack has wind of a rare and priceless sceptre he and Nick can rip off and a foolproof plan to get Nick inside, past security and away with the loot. What follows is a fairly by numbers heist thriller as the pair hatch and execute the plan before the double cross (inevitable, really) and comeuppance.

It's curious that this film isn't mentioned with the same reverence as Heat, which featured a similar few scenes between two of the generally accepted Best Actors Alive. It's possible the reason is because this is more like Righteous Kill than Mann's classic.

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