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Film / A Score to Settle

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A Score to Settle is a 2019 American action-thriller film directed by Shawn Ku. It stars Nicolas Cage and Benjamin Bratt.

Diagnosed with a fatal condition, Frankie Carver (Nicolas Cage) is released from prison after serving 19 years of hard time. With only a short time left to live, Frankie must desperately try to make amends with the son he left behind while he plots a bloody course of revenge - tracking down his old gang to make them pay one by one.


  • Agony of the Feet: During the shootout at the nursing home, Jimmy the Dragon is taking cover behind his SUV. Frankie, who is lying on the ground behind a sign, can see Jimmy's feet under the vehicle, and drops him by shooting him in the ankle.
  • Batter Up!: In the Cold Open, Max bashes a bagman from a rival mob to death with a baseball bat: a crime that Frankie takes the fall for. Frankie returns years later with same bat intending to use it on Max, only to change his mind when he discovers that Max has been in a coma for 15 years.
  • Dead All Along: Joey actually died years ago while Frankie was in prison, and the Joey that meets Frankie when he gets out is a hallucination caused by Frankie's terminal illness. The truth is revealed when Frankie visits his wife Lorraine's grave and Joey's grave is next to it. In hindsight, there were multiple clues to Joey's nonexistence: he walks rather than drives to the prison; he never eats; nobody besides Frankie ever interacts with him; and his number isn't recorded on Frankie's phone despite him having called it.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Frankie's son Joey meets him when he is released from prison. It is only when Frankie visits his wife's grave that the audience sees Joey's grave next to hers and learns that Joey has been Dead All Along, and Frankie's interactions with him have been a hallucination caused by his terminal illness.
  • Gag Penis: The don't call him Jimmy the Dragon because of his dragon tattoo.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: After getting out of prison, Frankie visits his wife Lorraine's grave to lay a flower and apologise for the mess he made of their lives. It is in this scene that it is also revealed that Frankie's son Joey is also dead.
  • Groin Attack: Frankie shoots Jimmy the Dragon in the groin just before killing him, complete with Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Frankie: They won't call you 'the Dragon' anymore."
  • A Handful for an Eye: During the fight in the brothel, Jimmy the Dragon sprays air freshener in Frankie's eyes to blind him.
  • High-Class Call Girl: After getting out of prison, Frankie gets involved with Simone; a high class call girl who charges $1000 an hour.
  • The Insomniac: Frankie is suffering from a degenerative disease leaving him an insomniac and thus preventing his brain from resting. The lack of sleep will subject him to hallucinations as dementia sets in before he finally succumbs to the inevitable.
  • Just Got Out of Jail: At the start of the film, Frankie is released from prison after 19 years when he is diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  • Off the Wagon: When Joey meets Frankie outside the prison, he tells his father that he is no longer doing drugs. Later, he storms out after a blazing argument with his father. Frankie tracks him down to a drug den where he has just shot up.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After spending 19 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, Frankie plans to use the time he has left to extract vengeance on the surviving members of his gang.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Frankie staggers out of the church and finds the police waiting and pointing guns of him. They call on him to surrender but he instead reaches into his pocket. Thinking he is going for a gun, the police open fire. As he falls, it is revealed he was actually reaching for the Tragic Keepsake of Joey's baseball card. Might also count as Suicide by Cop.
  • Suicide by Cop: One way to interpret Frankie's death. As a career criminal, he had to know what would happen when armed police called on him to surrender, and he instead reached into his pocket. Given that he was already badly wounded from two gunshots and dying of a terminal illness, it is easy to believe that he deliberately chose to go out this way.
  • Talking to the Dead: Frankie visits his wife Lorraine's grave after he gets out of prison to apolgise for the mess he made of their lives and their son Joey's.
  • A Threesome is Manly: Frankie surprises Jimmy the Dragon while he is in a brothel with a pair of prostitutes. Then a third girl who had been kneeling in front of him stands up.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Young Frankie is played by Nicolas Cage's nephew Bailey Coppola. Nicolas Cage plays the older Frank.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Joey's favourite baseball card that Frankie carries with him to remind him of how he lost Joey's childhood by being in prison. Becomes especially tragic when it turns out that Joey is dead, and Frank has been conversing with a hallucination of him this entire time.
  • Two Shots from Behind the Bar: Q keeps a 9mm automatic under the bar in his club. He brings it out and conceals it on top of the bar while Frankie is in the bathroom, but ultimately decides against using it, and instead opts to tell Frankie how he can find Jimmy the Dragon and Tank.