Nicolas Cage once again shows why he is one of Hollywood’s intense actors with his portrayal of a ex-con with, as the title indicates, a score to settle.
After serving a 19-year sentence in prison, former gangster Frank Carver is out and his first thing to do is to reunite with his estranged son Joey, a former drug addict who’s now clean and sober. The tension is still there, but with Frank returning to some old ground, he finds the money he saved before his sentence and carries both his son’s prized possession, an old baseball card and some baseballs that he carved himself, Frank is ready to start over with Joey.
However, underneath the surface, Frank does have something else planned. Being the scapegoat in a brutal murder, Frank intends to track down his old gang and settle the score. At first, he confronts Q, who is now a bar owner who has long retired and is awaiting his daughter’s wedding. Q decides to inform Frank the location of two other members before wanting to find their boss, Max. However, upon learning Max died of a stroke years ago, he intends to find the others and settle the score until he learns some dark truths along the way.
From co-writer and director Shawn Ku (Beautiful Boy) comes this drama-driven thriller that churns out another great performance from Nicolas Cage. It seems while Cage is known for his intense performances, when the script calls for it, Cage doesn’t have to always go postal. Granted, there is a bit of intensity from Cage in this film, but it doesn’t happen until very late. Instead, Cage churns out a great performance as Frank, a former gangster turned ex-con who wants to restore his relationship with his former junkie son as well as get even with the gang members who set him up.
Cage has a really good supporting cast, notably Noah Le Gros as Joey, Frank’s estranged son. Resembling a bit like Emile Hirsch, Le Gros brings a sense of nervousness at times in the role of a former junkie who has a love-hate relationship with his dad. He sees the good in his dad, but it is when he discovers Frank’s other intention that it threatens their relationship. Karolina Wydra also provides a sense of emotional support as Simone, an escort who sees the good in Frank and despite her only getting involved in business, proves to be a good listener and she seems like she wants to be with Frank.
As for the gang members themselves, Benjamin Bratt’s Q seems to be the one who has everything to lose as he contends not only with Frank returning but it will potentially affect his daughter’s upcoming wedding. However, Mohamed Karim’s Jimmy the Dragon is a highlight to see, not because of what he is into nowadays, but the fact that his character was a hothead then and is even a bigger hothead now. When confronted by Frank, he narrowly escapes but has a plan of retribution. However, what stands out in the final act, in which some major plot twists are revealed and brings a sense of shock in the film rather than have this sense of predictability. In addition, one of those twists leads to Cage briefly going into insanity mode when faced with a potentially dire situation.
A Score to Settle once again shows why Nicolas Cage can be a force to reckon with. He gives out another winning performance with minimal insanity as a man who not only has a score to settle, but attempts to reconnect with his son. Look out for see Cage even play the piano during a somber moment in the film.
WFG RATING: A-
RLJE Films and Ingenious Media presents a Goldrush Entertainment production in association with Minds Eye Entertainment, Paragon Media Productions and Spartiate Films. Director: Shawn Ku. Producers: Kevin DeWalt and Danielle Masters. Writers: Shawn Ku and John Newman. Cinematography: Mark Dobrescu. Editing: Chad Galster.
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Noah Le Gros, Benjamin Bratt, Karolina Wydra, Ian Tracey, Nicole G. Leier, Dave Kenneth MacKinnon, Mohamed Karim, Sean Owen Roberts, Leanne Khol Young, Nicole Munoz.