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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

The Game (1997)


Who cares what Michael Douglas does on a regular basis anyway?

In honor of his birthday, San Francisco banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a financial genius and a coldhearted loner, receives an unusual present from his younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn) — a gift certificate to play a unique kind of game. In nary a nanosecond, Nicholas finds himself consumed by a dangerous set of ever-changing rules, unable to distinguish where the charade ends and reality begins.

One night I was just hanging around when I found an old VHS of this and I have to say, I’m going to have to start watching my VHS’s from now on.

Director David Fincher is a great director as much of us know. He takes a lot of material and can make it incredibly more chilling, tense, and stylized like no other. He does not disappoint one bit here and just proves why he is one of the best mystery directors of all-time.

Fincher kept me guessing at every single scene just what was going to happen next, and what is real and what isn’t? I knew it was a game, because the title tells us that right from the get-go it was just so great to feel the claustrophobia from this film and being shocked at every single turn this film took. There’s a lot of twists and turns here that may confuse you, but Fincher makes it all seem pretty easy to follow. Also, Fincher uses this very bleak look to portray a lot of the emotions an ideas that are going through Nicholas’s head at certain points, and none of it ever feels too artsy-fartsy for my taking. Basically, Fincher is great, the story is where the problem lies.

I liked this plot and how it all came out on film, mainly because of Fincher but the problem with this story is that although it’s placed in the real world, it almost could never happen. Reason being that is because there are almost way too many co-incidences in this story to actually ring true. How do you know that somebody will get into this certain taxi cab? How do you know they will get into a room with a camera, where you will be seeing them all the time? How do you know that someone will be coming to the office at that exact moment? Also, how exactly do you know that someone will fall exactly off a roof, on the right side of the building, and not be killed? All of these questions and probably more will be raised when you’re watching the film and although I was along for the whole ride, I almost never thought that any of this could actually ever happen.

The ending also was pretty lame probably because I was expecting a big twist at the end, and I never got it. But saying that, I was disappointed that at the end of the film, we don’t learn anything or nothing really has changed about the character’s involved. I don’t want to give too much about this film away but I really did feel that we deserved a way better than what we got and some actual lessons learned at the end. Maybe it was just don’t be a little rich dickhead, and you’ll be fine. Well that’s at least what I took from it.

Although I don’t really like much of Michael Douglas in many films, here I actually kind of cared. This guy is such an asshole at times and when all this starts to happen, you start to see him actually lighten up about things because he doesn’t know what to do or who to trust, so I kind of actually stood behind him. He’s good in this role because he looks angry when he’s angry, he looks confused when he’s confused, and he always knows how to solve everything the right away. I think this is one of Douglas’s better performances mainly because Fincher directed him so well. Sean Penn is here as Conrad and is pretty good for what he does. Nothing special really, just sort of there I guess.

Consensus: Sparked by an incredibly dark and tense direction from David Fincher, The Game will have you guessing at every turn but as a whole the film seems too coincidental, and although by the end you feel a bit satisfied you never quite feel like you wanted to end on the note that it did.

7.5/10=Rental!!

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11 responses to “The Game (1997)

  1. Dan July 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I’m with you, the film was too unrealistic to really capture my interest but the story was clever enough that I didn’t mind watching.

  2. fogsmoviereviews July 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    I thought it was fun. I think like a lot of movies you need to suspend your disbelief, because of course this premise and plot are completely implausible.

    But I like Michael Douglas in most things he does (unlike you), and I thought he was good here (like you) too.

    And of course, Fincher does an excellent job here as well.

    I don’t even have a VCR anymore! You really went old school for this one huh? :)

  3. Steven Flores July 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I do like this film though I plan to review it once the Criterion DVD comes out soon as there’s no announcement for the time being.

  4. joem18b July 29, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    This movie really lost me at the ending.

    A while back, the public library had a VHS tape of something that I wanted to see. I went down to Costco and they still had a VHS player for sale – so cheap they were practically giving it away.

  5. blondoner July 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

    I’ve seen this film many years ago and must admit it is one of those that stay with you for a long long time. A proof for a masterpiece as in many cases I talk about this film to other people and I only watched it once about 10yrs ago!

    • CMrok93 July 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

      It’s not a classic really but still a very good movie and one that had my interest and kept me talking for a long time. Glad you liked it!

  6. Pingback: Criterion Collection: The Game Review | The Filmster

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