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The Game

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

*Also starring: Sean Penn, Peter Donat, James Rebhorn, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina, Spike Jonze

Review by Walter Frith
1½ stars out of 4

Director David Fincher's films are ugly. They present themselves as psychological thrillers but to date are indirect imitations of Alfred Hitchcock re-invented for a whole new generation of movie audiences. Although in a different style, isn't there a guy named Brian De Palma doing that? Was 1995's 'Seven' really that good or was it 'The Silence of the Lambs' with two cops mainly involved instead of just one? The third installment in the 'Alien' series was criticized for having atrocious camera work and it gave the word dread a whole new meaning. 'Seven' and 'Alien 3' were also directed by David Fincher.

His latest psychological wannabe is 'The Game'. I always give a film the benefit of the doubt until its conclusion and I walked in without prejudice to Fincher's latest film. This time I was not only disappointed but surprised how one dimensional this picture is. A wealthy investment banker (Michael Douglas) is given a rather unusual birthday present by his brother (Sean Penn). Douglas is to contact a company called Consumer Recreation Services and they will provide him with an entertainment which consists of fulfilling the empty and oblivious side of one's life in the form of creating scenes real enough to surprise and sometimes torment any client.

The audience knows all along that the whole thing is a game but 'The Game' tries to fool us from time to time with unconvincing scenes and large plot holes. It's also silly and absurd to believe anything presented as a real life situation like this could happen and it looks like the screenplay was banged out over a couple of days of wishful thinking and the desire to entertain an audience is instead an effort that moves in circles and ends up nowhere special and has only one reasonably good performance by Michael Douglas to its credit. All the other cast members with the exception of Deborah Kara Unger have about fifteen minutes of screen time or less.

What's most disappointing about 'The Game' is that it runs out of steam after the first hour and ends up in a stream of repetition that serves no point and its nightmarish theme of psychological ends will perplex the most intense fan of film thrillers and 'The Game' would have worked better had it been more of a one character story and if its focus had been on real peril threatening the people involved instead of offering no surprises which draw to a very frustrating and empty conclusion.

Copyright 1997 Walter Frith

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