Nobody likes to be a scapegoat – and especially for as long as nineteen years. In A Score to Settle, Nicolas Cage plays Frank -- a man who did just that. Who can blame Frank for wanting payback from the mob bosses who set him up? To make matters worse, while Frank was serving time, his wife died and their young son became a drug addict. When Frank gets released from prison -- because of an unusual terminal disease involving insomnia – his two goals include settling the score with his enemies and reuniting with his son. Which goal will receive most of his attention? That’s a no-brainer, folks. After all, this is a Nicolas Cage movie.
At first, we have some hope for Frank. After digging up a bag filled with money he buried before going to prison, Frank takes his now sober son Joey (Noah Le Gros/Wolves) on a spending spree. They stay in a first-class hotel, buy expensive new clothes, and start getting to know each other. This is not easy for either one of them, and Joey seems a bit skeptical although he enjoys the gifts. He even helps Frank meet Simone (Karolina Wydra/Crazy,Stupid Love), a beautiful woman who works as an escort and cheers him up a bit. Unfortunately, Frank uses his insomnia time to track his prey. Will he carry out his mission or decide to spend his last days with Joey, who faces demons of his own?
From the film’s first brutal flashback scene, we know this offering will be violent and bloody. And, oh yes, I forgot to mention that Frank made baseball bats in prison.
Nicolas Cage: revenge hard core.
No fan of his should best ignore.
“A Score to Settle” knows all this
and offers scenes you dare not miss.
To seal the deal, Cage even sings.
But he’s not after a pair of wings.
His rare disease? A lack of sleep.
So payback vows are hard to keep.
In prison a long nineteen years,
he is out now, but no one cheers.
Even his son tells him to stop
his vengeful mission or he’ll drop.
Awash with blood, this movie beats
with a sad heart revenge defeats.
Serve it cold or serve it too hot,
no one can win though bravely fought.
Nicolas Cage chose the right amount of restraint in his portrayal of the unhappy, obsessed lead character in A Score to Settle. There’s no over-acting here. But he has one almost over-the-top scene that will stay with you after the credits roll. Benjamin Bratt’s (The Great Raid) performance as one of Frank’s former criminal gang members and friend, also impressed me. He looks so friendly and helpful, but something doesn’t seem quite right. And I loved seeing Bailey Coppola, Cage’s nephew, as young Frank in a short sequence. He really resembles Nicolas Cage in days of yore.
Is this Cage’s best film? Probably not. My current favorite is Rage. And sentimental me prefers Moonstruck. But it’s defintely worth seeing for his fans, and it adds another movie to this Oscar-winner’s (Leaving Las Vegas) long list of accomplishments.
(Released by RLJE Films and not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about A Score to Settle, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.
Director: Shawn Ku (Beautiful Boy)
Writer: John Newman (Get Shorty)