Career thief Nick Wells (Robert De Niro) is about to mastermind a nearly impossible theft that will require his joining forces with a clever young accomplice (Edward Norton). The unlikely alliance, arranged by Nick's longtime friend and fence, Max (Marlon Brando), interrupts Nick's plan to retire from crime and settle down with his fiancee, Diane (Angela Bassett). Worse - it requires that Nick violate his most important rule: Always work alone.
Robert De Niro plays a weary thief tempted by wily old associate Marlon Brando into, yes, one last job
, a plan to rob a priceless scepter from Montreal's Customs House. Director Frank Oz's heist thriller partners De Niro with hotshot upstart Edward Norton, and you'd have to be determinedly grumpy not to get half a kick out of Brando, DeNiro, and Norton--more than holding his own--coolly bouncing off one another in a Method paradise. Brando may be enormous and breathing heavily with every move, but his technique is as agile as it ever was; he still seems spontaneously clever. Oz doesn't have the most crackling visual style in the world, as the film is far too smooth for tension, and keeps tapping Howard Shore's music score to do most of the work in that department; the divine Angela Bassett is once again totally wasted in a 10-minute throwaway role as De Niro's girlfriend. The Score
isn't anything new, and there isn't a single surprise, but if you're into this sort of thing you do respond to its polished familiarity. --Steve Wiecking