A Score to Settle Trailer Image

I’m an unabashed fan of Nicolas Cage. When he’s uncaged (pun fully intended), he’s an actor who knows no bounds; but when Cage is restricted by a poor script or direction, he can come off as rather subdued. By that, I mean he always looks bored when this is the case. “Season of the Witch,” a 2011 fantasy/action film, is a good representation of Cage almost entirely inhibited, with a few glimpses of his true self bursting out only a handful of times throughout.

A Score to Settle,” one of Cage’s most recent ventures down his current rabbit hole of overly dramatic action-thrillers, confines Cage to a plot that has so very little at stake—to the point where he comes off as the character I cared the least about. My favorite connotation of this film is as a “geriatric revenge” thriller, where, admittedly, the best “thrill” is watching Cage outrageously moan while having sex with a woman probably two or three decades younger than him.

A Score to Settle Movie Poster

The story involves Frankie Carver (Cage) simultaneously attempting to mend tensions with his estranged son, while getting revenge on his former gang members who got him imprisoned for 19 years. One of the inherent problems of Carver’s character comes from his lack of motivation (he begins the movie with woebegone acceptance of what happened to him, basically), and overdramatizing being a petty criminal, to the point where he thinks he’s a kingpin of some elusive syndicate. Really, it’s just like five or six other guys who are well into their 50s and 60s, and have all but retired from the field. It should be obvious by now that the cover art for “A Score to Settle” is so misleading in its delusions of vigor, that barely anything in this movie escalates beyond its predictability.

That being said, I found the low budget quality of “A Score to Settle” compelling enough in its endeavors for humor that I was willing to forgive the aimlessness of its plot. Although the film meanders between so many scenes bereft of tension (let alone any good action scenes), I found myself enjoying the scenes that barely function as subplots the most. Scenes such as when Cage and his son are riding in a taxi (which accrues, like, a $300 fee) and Cage sticks his head out the window to feel the wind in his hair like a dog, had me laughing hysterically. Shortly before this, Cage digs up a box behind his former home that has a ton of stolen money in it, and he is so excessively covered in sweat and panting so hard that I forgot he had some sort of medical condition. (This unnamed “condition” ends up being the downfall of Cage at the film’s end, but doesn’t bear mentioning anywhere else.)

If you love Nic Cage, and are willing to watch him in his most outrageous roles (or even his underwhelming roles), “A Score to Settle” is the pinnacle of a bad Nic Cage movie. I may have skipped about twenty minutes of the movie before a full hour had passed, but don’t let that stop you from finding small gems of hilariously bad plot points and goofy acting from Cage. This movie is kind of like a bad hangover, in that you’ll (hopefully) forget most of it by the time it ends.