Monday, July 18, 2016

Movie Review: "The Game" (1997)

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Movie"The Game"
Director: David Fincher
Year: 1997
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 9 minutes

Investment banker Nicolas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a control freak and a workaholic. With his birthday coming up, his younger brother Conrad (Sean Penn) gives him the gift of the Game in the hopes that he will loosen up and have fun. When Nicolas begins the Game, he never could have imagined what was in store for him. 

Directed by the fabulous David Fincher, "The Game" is a suspense thriller and mystery with lots of dramatic, dark elements. It stars Michael Douglas as Nicolas Van Orton, a wealthy investment banker whose life is his work. Everything else, including his relationships, his family, and any sort of fun take a back seat to making money. His brother Conrad, played by Sean Penn, lives his life free as a bird and has had battles with substance abuse in the past. Conrad doesn't have the best relationship with Nicolas, and in an attempt to reconnect, gives him the gift of the Game for his birthday. Nobody will tell Nicolas what the Game actually is, only that it is a truly life changing experience. A company known as Consumer Recreational Services, or CRS, runs the Game, and as soon as Nicolas contacts them, his game begins, even if he doesn't want it to and even if they tell him he's failed the initial testing phase. From there, the plot twists and turns in a million different directions. We feel what Nicolas feels as we no longer know who to trust, never knowing who is part of the Game and who isn't. The tension mounts as the film moves on, especially once Conrad reappears claiming that CRS will not allow him to stop playing. What starts as a simple Game eventually feels like a fight for life or death for Nicolas.

We haven't watched "The Game" in quite some time. After seeing the trailers for a new movie that's about to come out called "Nerve," we couldn't help but draw parallels to this film, so we decided to watch it again. It is a very intense movie that keeps you fully enthralled and on the edge of your seat the entire time. Just like Nicolas, we find ourselves never knowing what's coming next, never knowing where the next 5 minutes will take us, never knowing who to trust. Michael Douglas and Sean Penn do a fantastic job in their roles, and really, we expect no less from them. Douglas' obsession with money seems to be a bit of a typecast for him, but he achieves what he needs to as a perpetually money-driven businessman here as well. He sells the seriousness of his job, the annoyance with his brother, and the eventual terror of the situation as if the role was tailor-made for him. The supporting cast does also good job, helping move this exciting thriller where it needs to to come together for the big finale. Sure, there are elements to it that could be nitpicked about and torn apart, but we'd rather suspend any disbelief and ignore the contrivances in order to enjoy the amazing ride, even after multiple viewings. All of this works so well because of David Fincher's expert direction, filled with intrigue, playing with the light and camera angles, and stellar mood. All in all, this is a fantastic thriller that's definitely worth your time.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 72%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Predator"

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