A quite slickly made little drama thriller, “The Score” pretty much relies on half a dozen characters and a clever setup to carry off a simple but unambitious caper tale of old. The material isn’t exactly suspenseful or original with the double crosses easily spottable a mile off, nevertheless what makes it work is the simplicity of it all.
In a time when every filmmaker is coming out week after week with rapidly edited, flashy and explosive style movies relying on style and no script, Director Frank Oz has a far more relaxed tone and gives his characters plenty of breathing room – allowing the actors to develop them at their own pace. Norton is deliciously eager and greedy, De Niro cynical yet wise & patient, and Brando humorously flamboyant with all three bouncing off each other quite well.
A romance subplot between Bassett and De Niro is slotted in to and while it doesn’t work as well, its still watchable though oddly enough its shot in such a way that if you cut out all her scenes it wouldn’t upset the rest of the plot one bit (she’s only in scenes with De Niro and isn’t vital to the main plot at all). The main sequence itself is well laid out, built up and organised just enough to make it interesting but not too much so that it becomes dulled down with useless techno babble.
The sequence is off-set by the smooth jazz sounds of Cassandra Wilson and Mose Allison in the nightclub setting which DeNiro’s character owns, and a clever idea for a ‘prize’. This is a harkening back to an older and more enjoyable style of filmmaking that’s sadly disappearing these days, cheers to Oz and the gang for the very entertaining effort.