The Score Review

PLOT: Two small-time crooks are on a mission – the ‘score’ – that they both expect will transform their circumstances. At a roadside café, as they wait for a rendezvous hand-over, Troy falls in love with the waitress and begins to question his life choices… while the threat of real danger is driving to meet them.

REVIEW: I feel like the first aspect I need to talk about with The Score is the fact that it’s part-musical. Thankfully it’s more Tick Tick Boom than Grease, so it’s still enjoyable even if you don’t have that musical bug (which I definitely do not). With that said, the story and performances are more than worth it even if musicals aren’t your bag. Because what the film does best is take expectations and flip them entirely.

I’d be lying if I said that The Score doesn’t start off on a very strange note. As someone who’s rather averse to musicals, I find myself cringing when characters break out in song. But thankfully when it’s first introduced, it kind of works. It probably helps that the song is a straight-up banger. Unfortunately, the singing carries on throughout the movie, doesn’t feature nearly as good of songs, and often took me out of the moment.

Will Poulter and Johnny Flynn figure out their next move in The Score (2021).

Anyone hoping for a traditional crime movie is going to be sorely disappointed because The Score is absolutely more of a character piece. Even the title, which seems to have such an obvious meaning upfront, has multiple by the time the credits roll. Set mostly at a roadside diner, and featuring a very limited cast, the pace is rather slow. Small details unfold throughout the runtime as the bigger picture becomes clear. So the performances are really the crux of the film, and thankfully, the entire cast is brilliant.

I love both Will Poulter and Johnny Flynn, so the idea of them coming together for a crime drama is a dream come true. These two have such an onscreen presence and chemistry that it feels like the makings of a brilliant crime duo. But unfortunately, they never really reach their full potential. There’s something not all there about Poulter’s Troy, with him even having a bit of an anger problem. It’s this unpredictability, but also kindness, that makes his character so intriguing. His singing voice also really impresses, which I wasn’t expecting. The man can do it all. I guess the boy from We’re the Millers has really expanded his repertoire.

Johnny Flynn’s Mike is decidedly less affable. There’s a mysterious side that makes him quick to distrust. Flynn also provides the music which can be quite good, if not a bit jarring. Lydia Wilson also pops up in a small role, but there isn’t much to it. While her presence is important to the story, she’s gone before you even realize she’s there. This is unfortunate because she could have added to the great performances.

Naomie Ackie day dreams with Will Poulter in The Score (2021).

Naomi Ackie is probably most known to audiences as Jannah from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Thankfully she gets to do significantly more here, and therefore leaves more of an impression. There’s palpable chemistry between her and Mike. Her duets with Poulter are some of the best songs in the movie. Though their subplot does feel a little cliché, especially with how quickly their feelings develop, the payoff is more than worth it. 

While writer and director Malachi Smyth provides a really well-shot film, his decision to make this “part-musical” is very confusing. There are times when the singing is very clearly lip-synced, which immediately took me out of the movie. It’s this lack of proper execution that makes their inclusion all the more baffling. In the process of carving out a unique identity, it brings the overall quality of the movie down. But there’s some wonderful technical work at play here. There’s a sequence towards the end that is a perfect example how good split-screen can be when it’s done well.

I’m sure the fact that I’m not into musicals makes me far from the target audience for this picture. Even so, I still really enjoyed the story and performances present. My distaste for musicals may prevented me from appreciating some of those interludes, but I’m sure there are some viewers that won’t feel that way. Just know what you’re getting into when you go into it, and it’s sure to be an entertaining experience for the performances alone.

The Score is now IN THEATERS and VOD.

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About the Author

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Tyler Nichols is a horror fanatic who resides in Michigan and is always on the hunt for the next great film. When not scouring the internet for movie news, he is usually off watching something dark, writing nonsensical musings, or playing in some fantastical video game world. While horror takes up most of his time, he still makes time for films of all types, with a certain affinity for the strange and unusual. He’s also an expert on all things Comic Book Cinema. In addition to reviews and interviews here on JoBlo.com, Tyler also helps with JoBlo Horror Originals where he’s constantly trying to convince viewers to give lesser-known horror films a chance.