- David Fincher
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Thursday, September 02, 2004
However, despite the positive introduction, I must state I didn’t quite like the film. It does offer some entertainment (which is always a good thing), but it does so defying all possible logic, cheating the audience, and treating its characters (particularly the main one) like pieces of shit. I hated the core of the film despite the process being entertaining, and though I still appreciate having had fun with it, I resent its being so implausible and mean-spirited.
The plot has Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a business tycoon, hitting 48 years of age, and finding himself alone. Divorced on account of his work, he has come to the same age when his father killed himself, an event that shattered him forever as a child and an adult. Is he reaching the same fate?
Nicholas’ younger brother Conrad (Sean Penn) is the opposite of him: A carefree man who enjoys life and living it. As a birthday present, he gives Nicholas a gift certificate for a game, provided by a company called “Consumer Recreation Services”, the nature of which no one can really explain, but that appears to be a sort of real-life enactment that knocks at the customers’ doors, proving to be an exhilarating and unprecedented experience for them (Conrad himself was a customer).
Vain Nicholas quickly snubs the idea, but soon, given his midlife crisis, he decides to go for it. Big mistake! The “game” turns out to be, inexplicably, a life or death deal, where our hero’s life is turned upside down overnight, without much he can do about it but run for safety. Soon after the game has begun, a certain waitress by the name of Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) joins Nicholas, and is sure to supply a few extra surprises.
Admittedly, I had lots of fun with The Game, especially in the beginning. I was intrigued by its premise and found myself wondering what the game was from the get-go. As a big fan of Sleuth (1972), I expected it to be in the same league. And while it does resemble the aforementioned film (or play) in that someone plays a practical but deadly joke on another, The Game is not by far as credible or logical. Here, we soon get the sense that this is beyond a practical joke, and that if it is a joke, the joker is a psychopath. Indeed, one of the two is the final resolution, and I was unsatisfied with it, to say the least. I won’t say anything else about the story to avoid spoiling it, but I’ll warn those who haven’t seen it to be prepared for a big cheat, that is, if you’re into logic.
On a positive note, David Fincher’s direction is remarkable. The dark tone of the script is perfectly understood by him, and he turns nighttime San Francisco into a nightmarish setting. Michael Douglas is a fine leading man, in a tailor-made role, and Penn, Unger, and James Rebhorn provide good support.
Overall, The Game is OK for a good time, but highly unsatisfactory afterwards.
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Other reviews of The Game (1997): Morris