Nominee #12 - The Score (2001)
A long time thief considers retirement when a young kid convinces him to do one last heist.
Frank Oz Writers:
Robert De Niro plays the aging safecracker Nick who is pressured into undertaking one last heist (of the supposedly impenetrable Montreal Customs House) by his mentor Max (played by Marlon Brando). Brando enjoys himself both in his role and from what we hear of the multiple practical jokes he played on De Niro, on set too. The inside man for this job is Jack, played by Edward Norton. Jack takes on the role of Brian, stuttering, limping simpleton to craft the heist from the inside. He earns the trust of everybody in the Customs House.
The Score has a great plot, twists and three generations of phenomenal acting talent in the one movie that make it one thoroughly enjoyable heist.
Norton excels in switching between Jack and Brian ( memories of his role in Primal Fear come to mind). His “Okay, bye” becomes a hallmark moment. For Nick this is his last heist so he can head off to make a life with his lady love, Diane played by Angela Bassett. We know he has to succeed. Given the way, the heist comes together the big question each character asks is “Who owns the score?”. The one who sourced it or the one who makes it work?
Nick and Jack plan the heist together. But there’s an under-the-surface duel at play. It’s experience vs talent. Process and discipline vs the risky gamble. Nick ( Niro) throws in some sage advice: “Talent means nothing in this game if you don't make the right choices, there's plenty of talented people that never see the light of day anymore, this whole thing takes discipline because it's one big long shot and if you don't have the discipline to stay away from the" flyers", the "gambles", or whatever else you want to call a stupid move, then one day you will go down it's inevitable.” It’s that tension between the risk-taking Jack and the disciplined approach of Nick that seeps through the whole movie.
The plan is set up meticulously but we can sense there’s a double-cross coming up and that adds to the tension of the heist. You don’t know when the ‘gotcha’ is coming. The silence of the actual heist and the hissing of the thermic lance make it a stand out scene. The Score scores by combining tech with good old fashioned thievery to work around defences, find gaps in the impenetrable wall of security and fashion the final raid in. As with all good heists - half the job is getting it done, the other half is getting away with it.
Written by Kario Salem and directed by Frank Oz, The Score has a great plot, twists and three generations of phenomenal acting talent in the one movie that make it one thoroughly enjoyable heist.