If we're being honest, we must admit that it's pretty much impossible to conceive a truly original idea. Every idea comes with some foundation from somewhere else. This was something I learned in school, and was more liberating than it was anything else. Your aim should be to know history, learn to use what you can from those who have gone before, and then use your own voice to reconvey the message. One the one hand, people could see Star Wars as one of the most original films they've ever seen; or, on the other hand, they could see Star Wars as one of the most derivative films they've ever seen. The key for Lucas was to use what he could from those he admired and then inject himself into the material.
A film like The Score may seem like it has nothing new to offer. It's about an aging thief who is convinced to do one last score before he retires and is forced to break his own code, that has kept him out of trouble for decades. Yeah, it seems like we've seen this story before. In the hands for a Frank Oz, it becomes a highly entertaining and engaging experience. The cast is phenomenal, and it's the only film to have Robert DeNiro and Marlon Brando sharing the screen together. Edward Norton is absolutely stunning as the kid trying to make his mark, and Angela Bassett plays DeNiro's love interest and keeps things interesting. Oz knew that letting the actors improvise with each other would be incredible, and it is indeed thrilling to see the actors playing off each other. Like actors, the technical players on a film crew can bring the added dimension needed to take the otherwise stock material and turn it into something riveting. One of Oz's directives to the cinematographer was to make it look like Touch of Evil. Re-watching The Score, after some time and now having seen Touch of Evil, I really saw that Touch of Evil influence, and it truly adds to overall tone of the film. The audio commentary on the DVD describes the attention the filmmakers paid to the smallest details that make things just that bit more interesting.
As I've mentioned previously, it seems like filmmakers today are more fanboys than anything, and pay far more attention to the content than their craft. Hitchcock was far more interested in the how than the what, preferring style to content. As a result, filmmakers like Hitchcock and Kurosawa were always looking forward to their next picture. Always wanting to do more. Filmmakers today are burning themselves out. The Score has a well told story, with dynamic performances, great settings, stunning visuals, and it involves the audience quite a bit. Frank Oz's attention to detail takes what would be your typical B-Movie noir and turns it into a film worthy of repeat viewings by taking what has worked for others in the past and making it his own.