The Score (2001 film)

The Score is a 2001 American crime thriller film directed by Frank Oz, and starring 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 onscreen together. The screenplay was based on a story by Daniel E. Taylor and Kario Salem.

The Score
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Oz
Produced by
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Daniel E. Taylor
  • Kario Salem
Music byHoward Shore
CinematographyRob Hahn
Edited byRichard Pearson
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
July 13, 2001
Running time
124 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$68 million[1]
Box office$113 million


After nearly being caught on a routine burglary, master safe-cracker Nick Wells decides the time has finally come to retire from his criminal activities. He is enticed into taking one final score by his fence Max. The job, worth a $4 million payoff to Nick, is to steal a sceptre, a French national treasure stored in the ultra-secure basement of the Montréal Customs House. The sceptre was discovered by Customs agents being smuggled into the US through Canada. Max introduces Nick to Jack Teller, an ambitious thief who has infiltrated the Customs House and gained information regarding security by pretending to be an intellectually disabled janitor.

Nick's trusted associate Steven 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 sceptre's value 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 it over. 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 through 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.



During the production, Brando repeatedly argued with Oz and called him "Miss Piggy", the Muppet whom Oz played from 1976 to 2001.[2][3] Brando's eccentric behavior on set included performing scenes in his underwear and altogether refusing to be directed by Oz at times, having co-star DeNiro take over with Oz instructing via an assistant director, an allegation that Oz denied flatly.[4][5] "There was one scene–two days of shooting–when Marlon was too upset with me to act while I was on the set," Oz stated. "I watched from outside, with a monitor, and Bob was very good and acted as mediator between us."[6]

Despite these reports, Oz downplayed the conflict after the film's release, taking unspoken note of the reported tension on the movie's Montreal set:

Oz later blamed himself for the tension and cited his tendency to be confrontational rather than nurturing in response to Brando's acting style.[9]

Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on December 11, 2001.[10]


Box office

In its opening weekend, the film opened at #2 in the U.S. box office raking in $19 million, behind Legally Blonde.[11] 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.[12]

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 73% based on 128 reviews, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though the movie treads familiar ground in the heist/caper genre, De Niro, Norton, and Brando make the movie worth watching."[13] On Metacritic the film has a score of 71% based on reviews from 29 critics.[14]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three and a half stars, calling it "the best pure heist movie in recent years."[15]

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."[16]


Angela Bassett won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her portrayal of DeNiro's girlfriend, Diane.[17]


  1. "The Score (2001) - Financial Information". The Numbers.
  2. Cagle, Jess (July 8, 2001). "How To Make A Score". Time. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  3. Cagle, Jess (June 16, 2001). "How To Make A Score". Time. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001. Retrieved May 21, 2013 via
  4. Kelly, Brendan (July 2, 2001). "Settling the Score Stories". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on August 3, 2001 via
  5. "Nicole Kidman-Frank Oz's Tense Remake". February 10, 2003.
  6. Robey, Tim (September 18, 2001). "Brando's trousers - the truth". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  7. Anderson, John (July 15, 2001). "Director veers far away from Miss Piggy". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Newsday via Google News.
  8. Anderson, John (July 9, 2001). "All Joking Aside . ." Los Angeles Times. Newsday. Retrieved October 10, 2019.
  9. Capone (August 7, 2007). "Capone With Frank Oz About DEATH AT A FUNERAL, What Went Wrong On STEPFORD, And (Of Course) Yoda!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved May 21, 2013.
  10. Saccone, Melinda (December 7, 2001). "Rental Spending Down for Week Ended Dec. 3, But December Holds Gifts". Archived from the original on December 23, 2001. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  11. Diorio, Carl (July 15, 2001). "Goldilocks rocks B.O." Variety. Archived from the original on June 6, 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2019.
  12. "The Score (2001)". Box Office Mojo. October 26, 2001. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  13. "The Score (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  14. "The Score". Metacritic.
  15. Ebert, Roger (July 13, 2001). "The Score". Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  16. Travers, Peter (July 13, 2001). "The Score". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 24, 2013.
  17. "NAACP Image Awards Spotlight Blacks' Achievements". Jet: 37. March 18, 2002.
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