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As a Canadian, I'm used to watching a movie supposedly
set in New York and recognize streets in my hometown of Toronto.
The latest Nike ``playing tag " commercial is shot in a Toronto subway
station. Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver stand in regularly
for American ones thanks to the
weak Canadian dollar. So it was a pleasant surprise to watch
The Score which was shot in Montreal and find out that it is set
in, Montreal! There's even a scene at the beginning where a big-time thief
(Robert De Niro) sneaks across the border from the USA to Canada through
the Mohawk Indian
reserve that straddles the border between New York and Quebec.
In The Score, De Niro does his thieving in the USA and then returns
to his home in Montreal. This all changes when De Niro's partner in crime
who fences his stuff (Marlon Brando) suggests that he pull a big job in
Montreal. A priceless Scepter has been confiscated by Canada Customs
and is being kept in a safe in the basement of the Old
Customs House. This job would be right up De Niro's alley except
that he never does jobs in his home town. However, against his better
judgement and wanting to settle down with his flight-attendant girlfriend
(Angel Bassett), he agrees to do one last job. The inside man in
the job is a young guy pretending to be retarded (Edward Norton) who has
a job as a janitor in the Customs House. Together, Norton and De
Niro come up with an elaborate plan a la Mission
Impossible to steal the Scepter. The plan is helped along by
the fact that there is a manhole leading straight to the sewers right inside
the vault holding the Scepter. If you find this unbelievable, remember,
this is Canada where a
man with a knife can walk past an RCMP security detail and get all
the way up to the Prime Minister's bedroom. Anyway, this aside, I was
pleasantly surprised by The Score. The cast is very entertaining.
In particular, De Niro is great in the role of the retiring super thief.
His understated approach to the role makes the actors around him always
appear to be over-acting. Norton makes a nice counterpoint to De
Niro with his hyperactive acting style. Dropped into a couple of
scenes is Marlon Brando. Every time he appears in a movie, you sort
of ask yourself, ``Isn't he dead?" But no, he is literally large
as life and does ok this role as the idiosyncratic fence. Angela
Bassett, on the other hand, is a poster child for the lack of good female
roles in film today. Her tiny role as a flight attendant in The
Score is laughable considering her acting credentials (What's
Love Got To Do With It, Waiting
To Exhale, How Stella Got
Her Groove Back). The Score was directed by Frank Oz,
best known for being the man behind (below?) Miss Piggy and Yoda.
Brando and Oz didn't get along. Rumor has it that Oz had to leave
the set each time Marlon Brando arrived to do a scene. Anyway, the
direction is good here. This film starts very slowly and builds nicely
toward the inevitable climax involving people hanging from the ceiling
while hapless guards watch TV rather than their security cameras.
Actually, it works pretty well and the ending is quite satisfying.
And Montreal looks really good...