First, let's meet our characters.
Robert DeNiro is an old pro safe-cracker. We know he is an old pro because we see him cracking a safe in the opening scene. And since we, the audience, know nothing of safe-cracking we can only assume that since he does it so quickly and quietly he is an old pro. Robert DeNiro wants to get out of the safe-cracking business because in the opening scene he is nearly bested by a stoned girl in a party dress. Whew! Close one!
Marlon Brando is an old aquaintence of Robert DeNiro's. Marlon Brando is the guy that finds safes for Robert DeNiro to crack. Since he's the guy that finds the safes and the buyers of the contents, he gets 60%. Brando is trying to convince DeNiro to do "one last job". The Big One.
Edward Norton is a newbie. But what he lacks in experience he makes up for in balls, dedication, and quick thinking. He disguises himself as a retarded janitor at the Customs Office where the safe and the loot, a priceless gold sceptre, are located. Why a retarded janitor? So he can exhibit quirky behavior that the requisite bumbling security guards will forgive. It's also a great cover that allows him to move freely around the building, copy keys, and access files.
Angela Bassett is Robert DeNiro's lover. She is a chronically sarcastic flight attendant. I think her only function in the film is so Hollywood could check "Hot babe who just wants to have a normal life with her man" off of their required cliches checklist.
This film spends too much time trying to build suspense. Comic relief is provided by the cookie-cutter computer geek who lives with his mom. Telegram to Hollywood. Stop putting computers in movies-stop-It's boring-stop. DeNiro and Bassett have no chemistry. All of the dialogue is uninteresting. The characters are so cliche and shallow that I didn't care one way or another what happened to any of them.
The film takes place in Montreal. Now I know why more films aren't set in Montreal.
The only reason I would recommend this film to anyone would be so they could see yet another great performance by Edward Norton. Who would've thought that a scrawny geek like him could exhibit such range.
Here's how I would've made the movie better. I would've found out who wrote the script and replaced him with Kevin Smith. I would have cast Kevin Bacon in Brando's place. I would have removed Angela Bassett's character altogether. I would've made a stop in the editing room and removed every shot where the camera was pointed at a computer screen. I would've written a part for Vin Diesel. Finally, I would've ripped out the stock movie score and filled it with something not played by an orchestra.