If you share my disappointment with The Score, the recent heist movie that forced a gourmet cast, including Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando and Edward Norton, to subsist on a script of crumbs, sit down while writer-director David Mamet serves up a satisfying entree. Mamet, be it in Pulitzer Prize-winning plays (Glengarry Glen Ross) or acclaimed films (House of Games), crafts tangy, well-seasoned dialogue that a good cast can feast on. And this cast is prime. Gene Hackman, terrific as always, stars as Joe Moore, an aging thief being forced into one more job — a biggie involving Swiss gold bullion — by his longtime fence, Micky Bergman (Danny De Vito at his canniest). Micky insists that his twitchy nephew Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell) join Joe's team for the job.he setup is very similar to The Score, in which De Niro played the thief, Brando the fence and Norton the wild card. But Mamet gives the plot more twists than a bag of pretzels. And the fun comes in watching the vipers, including Delroy Lindo and Ricky Jay as Joe's accomplices, negotiate betrayals from inside while they're trying to outfox the cops. Joe dreams of a new life with his hot wife, Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon, the offscreen Mrs. Mamet, struggles with her femme fatale role), who discounts comments from leering males that Joe can't live forever. "Frank Sinatra gave it a shot," she says. Happy endings are a tricky business, but thanks to Mamet, this Heist delivers the kick of a job well done.
From The Archives Issue 881: November 8, 2001