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Nick Wells is ready to retire from crime. He'll settle down with his girlfriend Diane and focus on running his legitimate business: a Montreal jazz club. But Max, his fence, friend and financial partner, has other plans for him. Persuading Nick to violate two of his most important rules- always work alone and never operate in the city where you live -Max teams him up with Jack Teller. A young, aggressive and talented thief, Jack needs Nick's safe-cracking talents to make his first big score: a prize worth millions locked behind the walls of Montreal's Custom's House. It's a volatile combination in which egos clash and sparks fly, but the thrill of the heist has a grip on all three men, who won't give up no matter what the risk.
For more about The Score and the The Score Blu-ray release, see the The Score Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on December 11, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Frank Oz
Writers: Lem Dobbs, Scott Marshall Smith, Daniel E. Taylor
Starring: Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando, Angela Bassett, Gary Farmer, Paul Soles
» See full cast & crew
The Score Blu-ray Review
Score one for the complete movie experience.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, December 11, 2010
This is a very big payoff for very acceptable risks.
Packing a movie with bona-fide stars isn't always a formula for success. There needs to be something more substantial behind the faces, something for the audience to grab ahold of besides a name, and if all the intangibles surrounding an A-list cast fall into place, then --- and only then -- can an all-time great cast really put their mark on a movie. Director Frank Oz -- yes, that Frank Oz who's best known for Muppets and puppets and Yoda more so than his handiwork behind the camera on movies like The Dark Crystal and What About Bob? -- takes a crack at something far darker and certainly more adult oriented in his 2001 Caper film The Score, a wonderfully taught, superbly paced, and oftentimes incredibly tense example of crisp and knowledgeable moviemaking that just so happens to pair up three of the best actors Hollywood's ever produced. Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, and Edward Norton ignite the screen in what is one of the best threesomes ever assembled for a movie, and while The Score doesn't fall into the same category as some of the more epic of the star-riddled casts from yore as seen and enjoyed in movies like How the West Was Won and A Bridge too Far, the trifecta supports one of the better-scripted Heist pictures in memory, and their presence makes an otherwise good movie great.
Veteran thief Nick Wells (Robert De Niro, Stardust) has just pulled off his final job, hoping to put a life of crime behind him and settle down into the pleasures of his golden years as a Montreal Jazz club owner while solidifying his relationship with his loving and understanding girlfriend Diane (Angela Bassett, Meet the Browns). Nick shares news of his final score with longtime friend and collaborator Max (Marlon Brando, Superman) who in turn shares with Nick news of the opportunity to pull off the job of a lifetime. A jewel-adorned French scepter is being held at a secure location within Montreal's Customs House, and Max has a man on the inside. Jack Teller (Edward Norton, Stone) is a young but dedicated and highly intelligent thief who has turned on the charm and secured a job as a supposedly handicapped janitor, learning the lay of the land and obtaining invaluable information that will facilitate the theft of the prized scepter. A reluctant Nick eventually agrees to the job, working in tandem with Jack and planning a foolproof score. Will things go as planned, or will egos and greed get in the way of making sure everyone gets away with a piece of the action?
The Score is as meticulously crafted and well-conceived as any movie of its kind. Director Frank Oz seems to understand the Heist genre quite well, and it's evident that his emphasis on characterization, structure, pacing, and heightened yet reserved energy have elevated the movie to heights rarely achieved by a picture that's as bland and routine as this around its periphery. Once within its world, however, it becomes quickly evident that The Score is no ordinary genre picture. There's a strong allure to both the material and the characters that transcends the exceedingly elementary plot line that sees a veteran thief completing one last job only to be convinced of the viability of once again returning to the fray with a companion who doesn't quite see the world in the same way. That's the gist of most every other movie of this sort, but Oz effectively redefines it with his strongly subtle approach that emphasizes not the ins-and-outs of the plot itself but rather the way the characters shape it. Oz's craftsmanship also yields a consistent energy level that's not readily evident even as it gradually builds over the course of the movie, and it's only when the end credits roll and the audience may step away and once again breathe that it becomes clear how much much electricity flows through the movie's visually dull façade. This is a movie with untold amounts of character, concerned not with flash but instead a steady, even structure and a buildup towards an unbearably intense final act that's all helped along by a tremendously formidable cast that's one of the best in memory.
To label De Niro, Brando, and Norton as anything less than a nearly perfect cast would be to sell short just how much quality acting there is going in The Score. Brando's role is critical to the plot but doesn't absorb too much screen time; he might not be in The Godfather form, but it's always a pleasure to see him on-screen and he certainly puts forth a fine effort in The Score, despite his reported run-ins with Director Frank Oz. Nevertheless, this is De Niro and Norton's movie, and both nail their performances in every scene. De Niro sells his part exceptionally well from the outset, evidenced not only by his skilled effort in the film's opening minutes as he completely disappears into the part of a highly skilled and professional veteran burglar, but on through the remainder of the film as he not only plans and executes the heist but deals with his work relationship with Jack and his personal relationship with Diane, the latter of which adds a necessary dynamic to the picture that further elevates the internal personal crisis Nick faces through the movie. Edward Norton, though, manages to steal the show from two Hollywood legends and effectively plays two characters to sheer perfection. His efforts as both the intelligent but inexperienced and occasionally hotheaded thief who counters De Niro's older and more stable character, as well as his portrayal of a mentally handicapped janitor, are both seamless and incredibly performed. It's not often a young actor outshines two Oscar winners, but Norton does just that.
The Score Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Score misses the mark with its Blu-ray debut. Paramount's serviceably lackluster 1080p transfer won't satisfy format aficionados, but it nevertheless beats the the film's previous standard definition releases in every category. The image lacks precision sharpness at every turn; it never appears downright soft, but it could certainly use a bit more crispness throughout. The transfer fails to capture the intricate detailing often seen in the more naturally filmic transfers, but never does the image appear excessively smoothed. The color palette appears a bit dull, but The Score doesn't set out to engage in any razzle-dazzle, either. By its very nature, The Score is a bland picture in terms of its visual structure, but this Blu-ray release does it no favors. Blacks play around the periphery of perfection in a few scenes but never quite get there, mostly due to looking a too overbearing and murky in far more scenes than not while usually dotted with noise. Dragging the transfer down further is a series of minor nitpicks including slight haloing, unobtrusive speckling, minor blocking and banding, and a stray hair that remains on-screen for a good 15 seconds near the end of the movie. Paramount's transfer is certainly a downer, but it's not a disaster. More frustrating than disappointing, The Score yields a problematic but nevertheless watchable 1080p experience.
The Score Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Score features a boring but steady Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. It seems as if by design the track is reserved and lacking in energy, perhaps as a way of further emphasizing story and characters over technical showmanship. Things play out primarily across the front, with the film's soundtrack lacking vitality but playing with a fair bit of crispness. Howard Shore's Jazz-inspired score plays as audibly subdued but nevertheless silky smooth with fair spacing and good clarity across the front but not real support from the back. In fact, the surround speakers are only sporadically engaged and lightly at that; the subtle din of a none-too-busy restaurant in chapter nine spreads into the back and does a fair job of placing the audience in a seat at the table, while a single gunshot heard during the climax offers the most concentrated energy the back channels are going to yield throughout the two-hour runtime. A few other sonic surprises heard during the climax deliver a bit of oomph to the experience, but even the track's most aggressive elements don't fully draw the listening audience into the movie. Much like the video presentation, this one's not particularly disappointing, just in every way vanilla.
The Score Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Score earns a few points for a fairly basic supplemental package that's highlighted by a commentary track.
The Score Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Score is one of the more unheralded pictures of the past decade and, quite possibly, the best of its kind. The Caper/Heist movie represents a rather stale and monotonous genre, but Director Frank Oz and his trio of top-flight actors inject the movie with an incredible energy that's so well distributed throughout the picture and so perfectly balanced between character drama and unbearable tension that it's only after the movie is over and the audience slowly descends from the high of the experience can they truly appreciate the artistry both in front of and behind the camera. The Score isn't a perfect movie -- the general plot line is rather straightforward and unimaginative with a few predictable twists at the end -- but it plays with a confidence that few other movies can match. As for its cast, they just don't get much better than this; the three lead characters are played by two legends and a third well on his way to securing that monicker. The Score isn't an event movie or even an all-time classic, but the incredible performances, great writing, and excellent filmmaking on display make it a film worth revisiting every few years. Paramount's Blu-ray release of The Score delivers a mediocre Blu-ray presentation, featuring midlevel technical specs and a standard array of extras. Recommended on the strength of the movie and the purchase-friendly price.
The Score: Other Editions
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The Score Blu-ray, News and Updates
• BB Deal of the Day: The Score Blu-ray for $9.99 (Expired) - September 9, 2010
Best Buy has another BD-related deal of the day going on now – and again, featuring one of its exclusive titles. Today only, you can buy The Score for only $9.99 (56% off MSRP). This title is a Best Buy exclusive in the US, and the length of this exclusivity period ...
• The Score Best Buy Exclusive Blu-ray - August 25, 2010
Paramount's 2001 crime thriller The Score, starring Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, will be released on August 31, exclusively at Best Buy. No release details are available, nor is there any information as to the duration of the exclusivity window.
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