The Score (2001 film)

The Score

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Oz
Produced by Gary Foster
Lee Rich
Written by Daniel E. Taylor
Kario Salem
Lem Dobbs
Scott Marshall Smith
Starring Robert De Niro
Edward Norton
Angela Bassett
Marlon Brando
Music by Howard Shore
Cinematography Rob Hahn
Edited by Richard Pearson
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
July 13, 2001
Running time
124 minutes
Budget $68 million
Box office $113,579,918

The Score is an American-Canadian crime thriller film directed by Frank Oz, and stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando in his final film role. It was the only time that Brando and De Niro appeared performed onscreen together (although both played the same role of Don Vito Corleone, in The Godfather saga, they never appeared together). The screenplay was based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada from a story by Daniel E. Taylor and Emmy-winner Kario Salem.


After nearly being caught on a routine burglary, master safe-cracker Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) decides the time has finally come to retire. Nick's flight attendant girlfriend, Diane (Angela Bassett), encourages this decision, promising to fully commit to their relationship if he does indeed go straight. Nick, however, is lured into taking one final score by his fence Max (Marlon Brando). The job, worth a $4 million payoff to Nick, is to steal a sceptre, which is discovered to be a French national treasure. It was hidden in the leg of an antique piano and smuggled illegally into Canada, stored in the ultra-secure basement of the Montréal Customs House after accidentally being uncovered.

Nick is introduced by Max to young Jack Teller (Edward Norton), an ambitious thief who has infiltrated the Customs House and gained information regarding security by pretending to be an intellectually disabled janitor named Brian. It is not in Nick's nature to accept Jack, someone he has never worked with before. But he is talked into taking the job by a pleading Max, who is heavily in debt.

Nick's trusted associate Steven (Jamie Harrold) hacks into the Custom House's security system to obtain the bypass codes, allowing them to temporarily manipulate the alert protocols of the system during the heist. Steven is caught, however, by a corrupt systems administrator who extorts Nick for $50,000 for the information. More complications arise when they are forced to move up their timetable after the Customs House becomes aware of the true value of the sceptre and adds extra closed-circuit television cameras and infrared detectors to monitor the basement room while preparing to return it to its rightful owners.

Nick uses a sewer tunnel to enter the Customs House basement as Jack rigs the cameras to shut off when Nick enters the storage room. A fellow janitor stumbles upon Jack, who locks him in a closet. Nick fills the enormous in-floor safe containing the sceptre with water before inserting and detonating a depth charge to blow off the door. He quickly packs up the sceptre in a carrying case to depart, but Jack double crosses him and at gunpoint demands he hand over the sceptre. Nick reluctantly gives up the carrying case and seconds later the alarm, rigged by Jack, alerts the entire security staff to the heist. Nick darts for the sewer entrance he came in as Jack heads back upstairs, tucking the carrying case inside his janitor jumpsuit and slipping past the incoming police units responding to the burglary. Nick escapes the security guards chasing him through the sewer tunnels.

After making it to a bus station to flee the city, Jack calls Nick to gloat but is shocked to discover that Nick has anticipated Jack's actions. Jack opens the carrying case Nick gave him and finds it contains a steel rod weighed down with various bushings. Brushing off Jack's threats of vengeance, Nick advises Jack to flee as "every cop in the city" will now be looking for him. Nick hangs up and boards a boat with the real sceptre as a shocked Jack broods over his situation. Later, Max smiles as he watches a news broadcast reporting a massive manhunt being organized to find Jack, the prime suspect, and an unidentified accomplice. Nick then meets Diane at the airport as she returns from work, and they embrace.



The Score was shot entirely in the Montreal metropolitan area and the city did not substitute for an American metropolis as with many other productions shot in Canada.

During the production, Brando repeatedly argued with Oz and called him "Miss Piggy", the Muppet whom Oz played from 1976 to 2001.[1][2] Oz later blamed himself for the tension and cited his tendency to be confrontational rather than nurturing in response to Brando's acting style.[3] Brando eventually refused to take direction from Oz and insisted that De Niro direct his scenes.[4] As a result, Brando had his way with De Niro directing him. "There was one scene - two days of shooting - when Marlon was too upset with me to act while I was on the set," Oz admits. "I watched from outside, with a monitor, and Bob was very good and acted as mediator between us."[5]


Critical response

The film received generally positive reviews with a rating of 73% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 128 reviews with a rating average of 6.5/10. The critical consensus was summed up as, "Though the movie treads familiar ground in the heist/caper genre, DeNiro, Norton, and Brando make the movie worth watching."[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three and a half stars, calling it "the best pure heist movie in recent years."[7]

Peter Travers, film critic for Rolling Stone, pointed out that when "two Don Corleones team up", he expected "the kind of movie that makes people say, 'I'd pay to see these guys just read from the phone book.'" However, he concluded, "There's nothing you can't see coming in this flick, including the surprise ending. Quick, somebody get a phone book."[8]

Box office

In its opening weekend, the film opened at #2 in the U.S. box office raking in $19,018,807 USD, behind Legally Blonde.

After its July 13, 2001 opening, the $68 million film earned a gross domestic box office take of $71,107,711. Combined with the international box office, the worldwide total is $113,579,918.[9]


Angela Bassett won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of DeNiro's girlfriend, Diane.[10]


  1. Cagle, Jess (16 July 2001). "Cinema: How To Make A Score". Time. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  2. Cagle, Jess (June 16, 2001). "How To Make A Score". Time. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  3. Capone (August 7, 2007). "Capone With Frank Oz About DEATH AT A FUNERAL, What Went Wrong On STEPFORD, And (Of Course) Yoda!!". Aintitcool. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  4. "Nicole Kidman-Frank Oz's Tense Remake". 2003-02-10.
  5. Robey, Tim (18 September 2001). "Brando's trousers - the truth". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  6. The Score: Rotten Tomatoes
  7. Ebert, Roger (July 13, 2001). "The Score". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  8. Travers, Peter (July 13, 2001). "The Score". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  9. "The Score (2001)". Box Office Mojo. October 26, 2001. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  10. "NAACP Image Awards Spotlight Blacks' Achievements". Jet: 37. March 18, 2002.

External links

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