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The Score
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Year: 2001
Length:2 Hours 4 Minutes
Cast:Frank Oz, Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Marlon Brando

Three generations of movie actors are represented -- brilliantly, we might add -- by the starring triumvirate of this dazzling thriller, a slickly turned out caper film with a climactic plot twist worthy of Hitchcock. The Score's "MacGuffin" (Hitch's term for the person, goal, or object about which a thriller revolves) is a jewel-encrusted French scepter temporarily stored in a Montreal customs house. Robert De Niro portrays an aging professional thief who contemplates retiring to run his well-established nightclub and spend time with his long-suffering girlfriend (Angela Bassett). But along comes Marlon Brando -- De Niro's silent partner, money launderer, and fence -- with a tantalizing story: He's been asked by brash young thief Edward Norton, who spent months casing the customs house, to secure De Niro's services in helping with the heist. It's an irresistible proposition; but, potentially, a dangerous one. Muppeteer-turned-director Frank Oz (Bowfinger), best known for his comedies, demonstrates a surprising facility for caper-flick conventions. His camera peeks, darts, or swoops as demanded by the script, and he initially adopts a stately tempo that picks up as the scheme gradually unfolds and the robbery gets underway. It is the bravura performances of De Niro, Norton, and Brando, though, that really distinguish The Score from the dozen or so other films with similar plots and characters. These charismatic pros work together like the cogs in a well-oiled machine, and their ability to suck you into this otherwise routine story will make a dramatic third-act surprise even more satisfying than it might normally be. Oz and cinematographer Rob Hahn supply a feature-length commentary for the DVD, which also includes a "making of" documentary, additional footage, and theatrical trailers.

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