A Score to Settle, written by John Newman and directed by Shawn Ku, has a plot like pretty much any other B-movie starring Nicolas Cage. However, unlike most of the other films in which he appears nowadays, this is actually somewhat enjoyable, and not a brooding and dark dirge.
The movie follows a former mob enforcer who, recently released from prison for a crime he did not commit, seeks revenge against the people who put him there. Although this story is nothing new, and the film does very little to differentiate itself from any other movie of the type, it is still surprisingly enjoyable to watch.
Although the film is entirely predictable (down to the absolutely bonkers and unintentionally hilarious twist), it manages to move along at a really good pace. The first half of the movie is much more lighthearted than you would expect, showing the protagonist as he attempts to re-adjust to society outside of prison, and then the second half pivots into a more gritty revenge thriller.
Of course, the main reason why this film is so enjoyable to watch is Nicolas Cage. As in pretty much any other movie he does, Cage goes all in on the performance, delivering his lines with a wacky and fun over-the-top manner. Granted, it is the exact same performance he gives in pretty much every movie, but it works quite well in this scenario.
Additionally, the character development in the movie is surprisingly strong. Early in the film, we are introduced to Cage’s character as a flawed person who has made mistakes but has worked to redeem himself. The way in which his relationship with his son develops over the course of the movie also helps make him even more sympathetic and likable.
Emotionally, the film hits most of its intended beats, even if it is in a way that feels forced and a tad manipulative. The protagonist’s insomnia, for example, is something that helps us connect with the character and makes the story feel more resonant. We feel pity and sadness for his situation, and therefore some of his actions feel more justifiable to us.
On a technical level, the movie is definitely quite messy. Admittedly, you would expect nothing else from a B-movie like this, but this film is even more all-over-the-place than the rest of Cage’s recent movies like this. The visuals switch constantly from oversaturated to overly stylized. Had the filmmakers chose one or the other, the film could have been much better.
A Score to Settle is a ton of fun for what it is. If you come in expecting a masterpiece, you will surely be disappointed. However, if you want a schlocky action movie featuring the always entertaining Nicolas Cage, this movie is definitely worth the rental fee.
A Score to Settle hits theaters and VOD on August 2.