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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

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The Score (2001) on IMDb

Plot Overview

sceptreMontreal jazz club owner Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) is ready to marry his chocolate, flight attendant sweet­heart Diane (Angela Bassett) but he has to give up his “other thing” before she will consent. His partner in crime and long­time friend Max (Marlon Brando) needs him to do one last job to stave off this friend's financial ruin. Nick also could use the money to retire his club mortgage. He will need to partner up with inside man Jack Teller (Edward Norton) an under­cover janitor at the Montreal customs house where a “priceless” 17th century French artifact is being held in a secure basement. It's a win–win situation for all involved, or at least it should be.


“The Score” is very specific about the swag's provenance: it's a jewel-encrusted scepter “made in 1661 in France” for a special coronation of a girl queen. On the off chance that history is repeating itself, it behooves us to look at what was happening in France at that time. From J.M. Roberts's History of Europe:

There was no sudden transition to the modern ‘state’: it took centuries. … in Valois France … Rebellion was not the exceptional but a continuing fact of life for the sixteenth-century, and when it brought together popular grievance and challenged local interest, it might be fatal. Even if royal troops prevailed in the end, no monarch wanted to be reduced to relying only on force. As a famous motto had it, artillery was the last argument of kings. The history of the political turbulence of France right down to the middle of the seven­teenth century … show[s] this. ¶The monarchy survived the crisis, and in 1660 its position was still essentially intact, even if it had under­gone for a time some­thing of an eclipse. ¶Her king was to become the model for monarchs, embodying a new vision of absolute monarchy. (254, 256)

The year (1661) when the sceptre was made was during a long transition period of democracy in the making, but it hadn't arrived yet. Novelist David Downing offers some insight:

in normal times, only one in a thousand people were actively engaged in politics. In a revolutionary period, fifty times as many people were involved, a leap in numbers huge enough to create the impression, particularly in the minds of those involved, of a whole society on the move. But the impression was misleading, because fifty out of a thousand was still only one in twenty. And 95 percent of the population was still busy doing things they thought more important, like eating and sleeping and making love. (98–9)

The dynamics of our clutch of thieves does indeed resemble those olden French times when they were moving towards democracy but hadn't yet arrived. Max was the big cheese. They set a price on the artifact of $30 million, of which Max being the fence would receive half and then some—he had to pay off hood Teddy Salida $4M. The rest he was to divide among his confederates: inside man Jack, master safe-cracker Nick, and driver & some­times muscle Burt (Gary Farmer.) They each were each to get $4M.

There was a movement towards a more even split when Nick confronted Max:

Nick: “If you want me to do this, you gotta pay me what's right. It's gotta be that way.”

Max: [Indignant] “I always pay you what's right.”

Nick: “You always think you do. I always know what you pay me. It's not always right.”

Nick gets Max to up his share to $6M to cover the added risk of doing a job in the place where he lives and works. Jack, how­ever, has no paper trail leading back to him, and he can (and does) leave town at a drop of a hat, so there's no added risk for him. They're mostly all happy with the huge score, their percentages not­with­standing. They go about their regular business: Nick cooks dinner for Diane, and the mother of their contracted hacker Steven (Jamie Harrold)—whom they're paying twice his regular rate—cooks him dinner, Diane sleeps at Nick's place when she's in town—or maybe in a hotel when they're on the outs. Nick and Diane have sex (off-screen.)

If anyone wants to agitate for more, he'll be in the minority. Jack is not entirely happy about, “a sucker's share on a score that I set up, from the beginning!” He doesn't like Nick getting more than he does. Nick's advice to him is, “Make a list of every­thing you want now and spend the next twenty five years getting it, slowly, piece by piece.” The $4M will make a good start.

This film comes off as a drama from the get-go. Nick is interrupted robbing a safe in a study when an amorous couple from the party below arrives to frolic on the couch. But they have an argument about smoking and the man (Gavin Svensson) leaves in a huff. Then when Max is trying to set up the team, Nick finds it necessary to send Burt to rough up Jack to teach him a lesson. One can almost see the drama brewing in, (Prov. 27:4) “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?”

money bagsThe movie doubles down on outrageous anger and cruel wrath when in a park filled with little kids, our crooks are having a meet with counter-hackers to buy security codes. Angry words are exchanged and guns drawn … in a park filled with kiddies! But this is nothing compared to the other shoe we expect to hear drop when Jack out of envy leaves every­one in the lurch.

Production Values

” (2001) was directed by Frank Oz. Its story was created by Daniel E. Taylor and Kario Salem. Its screenplay was written by Kario Salem, Lem Dobbs, and Scott Marshall Smith. It stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett, and Marlon Brando. Norton did some superb acting. De Niro was very present­able as Nick. Angela Bassett was yummy. And Brando was a shoe-in.

MPAA rated it R for language. The cinema­tog­raphy is a credit to the time-worn city of Montreal, and the exterior shots were a thing of beauty mixed with night­time menace. The cast of characters, major and minor, added color and drama to the story, as well. The direction of Oz was an accomplished work of art in telling a story full of crime thriller suspense.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

Overall, this is a laudatory motion picture for adults. It's not as strong on action as one might suppose from the trailer, but it works well for dramatic character development. As long as your goal isn't nonstop action, this crime drama would be hard to top.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotations were from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Downing. David. Dark Clouds Shining. New York: Soho Press, 2018. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.