MOVIE: A SCORE TO SETTLE
STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE; BENJAMIN BRATT; NOAH LE GROS
DIRECTED BY: SHAWN KU
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
A Score to Settle is a buffet of Nicolas Cage movie tropes. This is a movie where Cage plays a prisoner, with a terrible case of insomnia, and it's so bad that they give him medicine and an early release. How does the Mandy star celebrate his new found freedom? By sticking his head out the window of his cab, to feel the cool breezy wind in his non-existent hair- Con-Air-style. That's just in the first ten minutes, which is followed by a film about a father reconnecting with his son and getting revenge on the men that put him in prison in the first place. Shawn Ku does his best to ground the emotions in A Score to Settle, but the raging Cage is loose, in a movie that will hold its place in a long list of Nicolas Cage direct to VOD action flicks.
Cage is playing Frank, a former crony of a mobster, and took the fall for his boss murdering someone over twenty years ago. Now that he is out, he claims money left for him for doing the time, and wants to make up for what he missed with his son Joey (Noah Le Gros). The rekindling of their relationship is what A Score to Settle spends a majority of the film on. The two “live it up”, buying dad his first iPhone, visit a tailor for brand new suits, buy a slick Ferrari to drive donuts around an empty parking lot, eat big meals, and even snicker at spotting a prostitute in the restaurant. Ya know, guy stuff. If all of that doesn’t sound awkward enough, we are given the pleasure of seeing Frank romance Simone (Karolina Wydra)- another prostitute with a heart of gold trope, that seems to dig deep into the Leaving Las Vegas Nic Cage time period.
The rest of A Score to Settle involves Frank getting his revenge. He meets up with old pal Q (Benjamin Bratt), who seems to be out of the business of pushing people around, and now wants to help Frank find the guys that put him in prison. If there is anything to appreciate out of a movie like this, it is the fun that Cage and Bratt have in their scenes together. The two veterans know how to stare each other down, hug it out, and keep a bit of mystery behind who their characters are. It's just sad that writer John Stuart Newman seems to think more is more, where the plot has so much going on you can't keep it straight. There is a father-son relationship, a love story, a revenge story, and at random moments Cage reminds us that his character is suffering from insomnia.
At the most, A Score to Settle is fun to watch Nicolas Cage doing a bi-polar, wild man performance that will leave you in shock with your mouth agape. At the least, it is a messy action flick with twists that everyone can see coming from scene to scene. That's not to say that director Shawn Ku does not have the skills to be a good director. His guidance and inspiration in the material is there. What is obviously missing is focus and anyone that can keep Nicolas Cage under control. It's not that A Score to Settle is a complete mess, it's just another direct to VOD movie for Nicolas Cage. Typically, only one out of his seven movies in a year is a hit. This is just not one of them.
Written by: Leo Brady