A Score to Settle Movie Review
You ever had a film experience where the film seemed so promising and so well-done but tanked in the final act? That was unfortunately my experience with A Score to Settle, Nic Cage's latest film. This is going to be more of a comprehensive discussion with a review embedded within it so spoiler warning for the rest of the article.
The film's basic premise is that Frank spent 19 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. He took the fall for his boss, the head of a crime syndicate, in exchange for a $450,000 payday. While in prison, Frank's wife passed away. It's also unclear when exactly this developed, but he was released early due to having fatal sporadic insomnia. Has he always suffered from it? Did it develop while in prison? We don't know the when of it, but we do know he has it. After being released, he meets his now grown son on the road and walks with him until they're able to hail a taxi. Frank decides to use the 450 grand from the payoff to spoil his son and make up for lost time. At night though, while his son is asleep, Frank sneaks away to hunt down his former mob crew in order to take revenge on them for being the only one to go to prison.
Most of the film was spot-on and well-done. It dealt with so many aspects that most don't. We saw the effects of after-prison life, from being in a good bed again to taking a real shower to fine dining. After being stuck in a cage for 19 years (lol Cage in a cage), one probably would forget what privileges felt like. I also applaud the film for doing a good job on showing what the symptoms/effects of Fatal Sporadic Insomnia are like. But after all this great build up, there's a particular moment that ruins everything.
Once again, spoiler warning. So, Frank and his son visit the graveyard where Frank's wife Lorraine is buried. The camera pans over and (gasp!) there's the grave of his son Joseph. So basically the film pulled a reverse Sixth Sense which almost worked except for the fact that this screws up the timeline of events royally. Frank says early in the film that he hasn't seen his son in 18 years. Okay, I shrugged that off as his son not being able to, or not wanting to, visit his father after Lorraine died. That fits. Frank also states that he made a baseball bat out of maple wood, intending to give it to his son because he remembered when Joseph played Little League. Little League has age divisions that range from 4 to 13. Lorraine died when she was 33, meaning Joey was 11 when she passed. This is where things get murky. Frank had to have been hauled off to prison before Joey turned 11. So...if Joey had not seen Frank at all between incarceration time and his death at age 19, how would Frank possibly be able to hallucinate Joey as an adult and recognize him immediately, no less? Hallucinations play on what's in your mind, right? Considering Frank wasn't shocked to see his son's grave, (he immediately says "I miss you so much") he knew his son was dead. He was most likely told by his mob buddies that his son overdosed and found out later that his son was actually murdered, which brings me to our next curveball. I don't imagine the mob would have ratted themselves out to a kid (they had him killed out of fear that he would turn them in), so how exactly did Joey find out why his father was put in prison? There's just too many plot holes and open-ended questions that destroy what the film built. It would have been better if Frank was out for blood for his son's murder rather than for his prison sentence WHICH HE CHOSE. He even admits it was his own stupid fault that he ended up in prison. So why set out for revenge if you admit you're the one at fault?
In conclusion, A Score to Settle is decent. It had a good idea but didn't execute it properly. It's not Nic's best but certainly not his worst. It's a good rental or a good trip to the $2 theater, but I wouldn't recommend adding it to your Amazon wishlist. I give the film a 2.3 out of 4.
© 2019 Nathan Jasper