The Score (15)

Review by Jack Foley

DVD FEATURES: Commentary by director Frank Oz and director of photography Rob Nahn; Making The Score; Additional footage;. Behind-the-scenes featurette; Original theatrical trailer; Scene access.

IF YOU were to compile a list of the greatest screen actors of all time the names Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando will probably be near the top. Then try naming a star from the current crop of talent emerging, and Edward (Fight Club/Primal Fear) Norton will probably figure highly.

Given that all three stars have now teamed up in The Score, you have every reason to expect something quite special. Yet while Frank Oz's movie is not an out and out classic in the same mould as Heat, for instance, it is a classy, tension packed couple of hours in the company of some terrific talent.

De Niro stars as the master thief looking to great straight who is lured into `one last job' by Norton's promising upstart as a favour to his long-time fence, Brando. But what starts out as a meticulously planned heist in which nothing can go wrong soon turns into something far more dangerous as egos and reputations lead to deceit and double cross in search of the ultimate prize - a priceless antique locked behind the walls of Montreal's Customs House.

For De Niro, the score represents the chance to put his life in order with Angela Bassett's well-to-do flight attendant, while also helping a friend, but for Norton, it is the chance to gain the respect he so feels he deserves. It is obvious from the start that their paths will collide - and much of the fun is in building towards this inevitable confrontation.

Director Oz proves himself a bit of a wizard at squeezing out the tension between the pair, building ever so slowly towards its sweaty conclusion, while choosing to play down the action elements.

He also gives Norton the showier role (complete with an alter-ego) that fittingly places him at odds with De Niro's calculated old stager, drawing many fine moments between the sorcerer and his apprentice. And swanning in and out of proceedings is Brando's overweight fence (it is good to see him finally doing something decent), a shadow of a man who needs to get out from under some crippling debts.

The Score, while undoubtedly slow in places, is the type of film which rewards the viewers' patience. It is old fashioned in its approach, which makes a refreshing change, and carefully sets about delivering its pay-off. Go in expecting greatness and you are likely to be disappointed, but enter with an open mind, and sit back and enjoy three of Hollywood's heavyweights strutting their stuff.