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Film: The Score

The Score is a 2001 crime thriller directed by Frank Oz and starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando in his final film role.

Nick Wells (De Niro), a professional criminal, decides to leave the business for good, since he nearly got caught on his last job. His plan is to live in peace with his girl Diane (Bassett), running his Montreal jazz club. Soon afterward, Max (Brando), his good friend and financial partner, comes along with an offer Nick can't refuse: A historical and priceless French sceptre has been discovered while being smuggled into the country. It is now under massive surveillance in the Montreal Customs House, and soon to be returned to France. Nick has to team up with Max's man inside, the young, talented and aggressive thief Jack Teller (Norton) to get the precious item. Only one question remains: Who will trick whom out of their share?

The Score contains examples of:

  • As Himself: At one point, Jack mentions a singer in Nick's nightclub is "pretty good." Who is this singer? Jazz legend Mose Allison. Nick lets it pass without comment.
  • Basement-Dweller: Stephen
  • Briefcase Blaster: Teller conceals the pistol he uses on the heist within a little radio he carries around as "Brian".
  • Canada, Eh?: Averted. At no point does any character says anything disparaging or stereotypical of Canada. The film do takes place in Toronto and Nick feels bad about doing the job there, but it's because by all means and purposes he lives next door to the place that'll be robbed ("never do jobs on your backyard. You taught me that, Max").
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Teller continuously believes that he is going to be double-crossed or stiffed on his cut of the heist, and as such he continuously talks about and does stuff that could endanger the heist (such as getting out of the Customs House as soon as the heist is over and go straight to Nick's for his cut, even if that could blow his cover, or bringing a gun to the exchange with Sapperstein), culminating with him stealing the scepter from Nick at gunpoint right after he took it from the safe. The moment he finds out that what he took is a fake he tries to threaten Nick with a Taking You with Me by telling the police about him, but Nick tells him that he has already wiped his trail and Teller is the only criminal that the cops can identify, and thus the focus of the manhunt to come.
  • The Cracker: Stephen
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: Nick (anticipating a double-cross) swaps out the sceptre he was hired to steal for the axle they used as stand-in during their trial runs, meaning that Teller ends up when nothing when he does betray him. Also qualifies as a Gambit Roulette.
  • Fat Bastard: Max
  • Gentleman Thief: Nick
  • Hacker Cave: Stephen lives in one.
  • The Heist
  • Hollywood Hacking: Anything involving Stephen. "Cruising around at root COBOL level when he pulled me into a private chat room" makes no sense at all, and neither (even in 2000) does encrypting an entire super-secret database with a single 10-key password that tells you every three characters if you're entering the correct one.
  • Improv: The back and forth between Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando, who were purposely given only key points to hit in dialogue and then simply left in front of a camera.
  • Ironic Echo: The near-Verbal Tic "Okay, bye bye" that Teller uses as part of his act is repeated back to him by Nick after the double cross occurs, which leaves Teller as the lead suspect.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Jack gets a job on the Customs House cleaning crew to act as inside man for the heist.
  • My Beloved Smother: According to Stephen, this is what his mom is. It's implied that at least part of that complaint is him acting crazy from drugs and sleep deprivation.
  • No Honour Among Thieves: Teller doesn't has honor. Ironically, he doesn't has honor because he thinks Nick and Max won't have it.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Teller pretends to be mentally disabled as part of his plan to infiltrate the Customs House cleaning crew.
  • Oh, Crap: Jack, at the moment he realises Nick has turned the tables on him and handed over a worthless sceptre. To add insult to injury, he is now the subject of a massive police manhunt.
  • One Last Job: Max talks Nick into stealing the sceptre as his last job. After almost being caught on a job at the beginning by two people who entered the room to try to have sex he insists that the Customs House job will be his last, even if some of the other characters don't believe him. He tells Jack at the end that he got rid of his thief gear workshop off-screen, and aside from Jack's word, there is no evidence remaining of his second life.
  • Pet the Dog: Originally, Jack was going to kill Danny, but Edward Norton felt that Jack would want to spare Danny's life because Danny was a friend to Jack's alter ego Brian when he had no reason to be.
  • Psycho Party Member: Jack Teller, by all means and purposes. A rookie thief that constantly jumps the gun (and carries a gun, a big no-no for the Gentleman Thief Nick) and believes that he will be double-crossed and cut out of his part of the loot once everything's done. Sapperstein's "cousin" could also be considered one, fidgety about the amount of time it takes to check the password and bringing a gun to a public meeting (and pretty willing to use it up until Jack shows him his own gun and mentions what a bad idea would be for things to end on a Blast Out).
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Stephen's final line to his mother.
  • Tropes Examined by the MythBusters: The method Nick uses to break open the safe at the Customs House (using a thermal cutter to make a hole on the top of the safe, flood it with water, and use an explosive charge and the water's expansion to burst the door open) was replicated by the Mythbusters. The result: the torch would probably incinerate everything inside the safe (including the scepter) and the safe would leak water profusely (forcing the thief to patch up the door), but the explosion would make the door burst open.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Teller during his final call to Nick. Starting by being smug about having "out-thinked" Nick by taking the scepter at gunpoint and the moment he discovers it's a fake and having an Oh, Crap moment about it trying to threaten Nick with a Taking You with Me by selling him to the cops if they capture him which Nick answers to by saying that he got rid of all evidence of his double life as a thief and would be Nick's word against his, and thus gives him an Ironic Echo and hangs up, leaving Teller in the bus station acting nervous to any cop sirens he hears in the distance.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: Wet Blanket Girlfriend: Nick's girlfriend is tired of his double-life and is a bit skeptical about Nick wanting to do One Last Job, so she leaves on the third act (because her airline stewardess job demands it) and tells Jack that if he hasn't made a decision when she comes back, she will leave. Unusual for the trope, Jack wholeheartedly agrees about her point and gets rid of all of his thief tools (except for the ones he needs for the heist, off-screen), makes sure everybody knows it will be his last job, and greets her at the airport at the end.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Jack to Sapperstein and his cousin, when the latter sets up a money swap to take place in a public park with families and children all around. Nick gives a similar talk to Jack once the swap is done, because he doesn't likes the fact that Jack carried a gun to the swap, either.


Saving SilvermanFilms of 2000 - 2004 Scotland, PA
The Wizard of OzJustForFun/Tropes Examined by the Myth Busters    

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