ONE STAR - DEGRADING
The empty and lonely lives of those who break the moral law of “Thou shall not steal” are graphically shown in Frank Oz’s film, “The Score.” Exploring the consequences of lives devoted to the purpose of taking other’s possessions, Nick (Robert DeNiro) and Max (Marlon Brando) are at the end of a 25 year partnership which has decimated their souls. Isolated and lonely, they risk life and love to do one final score.
Max is a profane and repulsive individual whose language not only slanders Jesus Christ but whose lifestyle also mocks his teachings. Sitting in the corner of his darkened indoor pool deep within his mansion, Max’s life of crime has deteriorated into a shivering fear and a need to put his friend’s life in danger to save his own.
Nick is an expert on opening safes. Having created a safety net of never doing a job in his own home town of Montreal, Nick is compelled to do so when Max’s life is in danger due to a debt owed another criminal. But to do so could cost him the love of the woman for whom he plans to give up his criminal life.
This is often the consequence of immoral lives. Friendships and love are undermined by our destructive decisions and we end up sacrificing life and love for questionable gain.
The final job they attempt is to steal a $30 million French Scepter that had been stolen and discovered by the Montreal customs officials. In order to penetrate the fortress-like Custom House, Max has engaged the help of a creative thief named Brian (Edward Norton).
Unlike Nick and Max, Brian is a young man who is just beginning his criminal career. Able to infiltrate the facility by masquerading as a likable mentally handicapped janitor, Brian is able to decipher the security system and identify the safe in which the scepter is held.
But what makes his addition to the mix interesting is his inability to either earn the trust of Nick and Max or to trust them in return.
Inherent within the relationships of the world of thieves is a distrust of others. If a thief is willing to steal from others, then obviously one is in danger of being robbed by them as well. Thus, to band together to accomplish a job is difficult because everyone involved has proclaimed that they are thieves or they would not be a part of the band.
With a complexity that stretches beyond the ability for most viewers to believe, the attempt to steal the scepter comes to a head when a double-cross puts everyone in danger and their success in jeopardy. But everything is not as it seems and the mission is modified midstream.
Though in the end, Nick is shown to be able to leave behind this life and find a future, the foundation upon which he builds his new life is one of degradation and dishonest gain. The hope for a blessed future on such a base is spiritually naive and emotionally unlikely.
Although all of us are looking to win in life, “The Score” implies that such a victory can be gained through thievery and deception. That is a message that is not only untrue, but also degrading. True lives can only be built on a foundation of rock-solid integrity and moral strength.