THE GAME (1997) 

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Michael Douglas
Sean Penn
Deborah Unger
Armin Mueller-Stahl
James Rebhorn
Peter Donat
Carroll Baker

David Fincher



Time: 121 mins.
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Thriller

This film had such great buzz that, though I wasn't really interested, I decided to go anyway. Unlike many directors working today, Fincher at least tries to create compelling stories that put a new spin on tried and true genres. His films are usually dark, intense, with a wry sense of humor and much bloodshed. They also tend to push the envelope visually, making the camera move like you never thought it could. That being said, as interesting as the premise was for this movie, I just didn't care. On a good day, Michael Douglas is a hard sell as a sympathetic character. Here, he's once again a rich, arrogant prick, who happens to be having a really bad week. The situations he finds himself in would be scary and upsetting...if he wasn't playing a game. Granted, he's not in on that little fact, but the audience is, so what's the point? How can we be frightened for him when we know it's a game?

They try to make the audience believe that the game is out of control and that Michael is in fear for his life...and they do a good job of it. However, unless the movie is about a serious illness, the main character always lives. Fincher may be a good director, but he's not ballsy enough to pull a Hitchcock. Besides if Douglas did die THE MOVIE WOULD BE OVER. Therefore, though well-plotted, there's never any true suspense. I was never afraid for him, just curious to see how he would get out of each situation. Not that I didn't feel sorry for him because they really pulled a number on him, convincing him that all of his money was gone, leaving him for dead in Mexico. However, the fact that he was playing a game was always in my mind. Maybe if all of these things started happening out of the blue, the film would have been more effective.

Douglas is a good actor who really captures the vulnerability and anger of a person coming undone. This is his show and he gives 100%. I can't think of any actor who could have pulled this role off as well. Without giving too much away, I thought the ending was quite clever. For a second, Fincher tricks us into believing that the game truly HAS gone out of control, actually taking the lives of some of it's players. Which I have to say pleased me quite a bit. It was going over to the dark side. However, as we learn through watching this movie, things aren't always what they seem. This is a well-crafted thriller that actually counts on it's audience having some intelligence. A rarity these days. Now all Mr. Fincher has to do is figure out a way to give his films heart, as well as brains, and he'll be a true master in his field.

"Discovering the object of the game *is* the object of the game."

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