Movie Magazine International

The Game

USA - 1997

Movie Review By Heather Clisby

From the director of "Seven," David Fincher, we've been invited to play "The Game," a psychological thriller based on the premise that anybody - no matter how rich and powerful - could use a little inconvenience to crack them up.

It is his 48th birthday and for investment banker, Nicholas Van Orton, it's just another day moving numbers. Played by Michael Douglas (for no one can play a rich asshole quite like Douglas) Nick tries to ignore that his own successful, rich father leaped from the family roof when he was 48, ending his own powerful life for no apparent reason.

Nick's mischievous younger brother, Conrad, knows of such demons and goes about setting them free. Here, we are treated to Sean Penn who has only a few scenes but works them with fierce hilarity like . . . well, Sean Penn.

The Game begins when Conrad gives his brother a gift certificate to CRS, Consumer Recreation Services. Nick, suspicious but intrigued, visits their expansive offices and endures a series of psychological and physical tests. When trying to determine what The Game actually is, only vague answers are given. "We'll call you," they say.

Nick returns to his lonely life in the mansion, eating cold sandwiches and watching the nightly financial news. This is where it begins - the mind tricks and personal digs. Slowly and deliberately, Nick's safe and controlled lifeless life begins to unravel.

After he meets a beautiful but feisty waitress, whom he'd recently had fired, things get really messy. Christine, played with tender bitchiness by Deborah Kara Unger, is both heroine and black widow. She too, plays The Game.

Snafus like this continued and just when you think Nick's life couldn't possibly be more vandalized, it does and is. The Game is played even further than you can imagine - further than Nick being penniless, drugged and left for dead in a graveyard coffin in deep Mexico.

"The Game" is a gripping film that will make you second-guess everything you see. It will also make you think twice about relying on that cell phone of yours. The rules are not posted, you can never spot the players and the ball is your brain. To paraphrase Conrad's hysterical observation, "Just when you think they're done playing, that's when the playing really starts."

© 1999 - Heather Clisby - Air Date: 9/10/97

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