The Game isn’t my usual Sunday afternoon movie choice, the recent Derren Brown series The Experiments put me in the mood for something more psychological. I am but a slave to the afternoon movie’s will, or maybe Derren Brown worked his mind tricks on me.
After ‘Se7en’ Hollywood and the film community was highly anticipating David Fincher’s next offering. Some critics were savage when reviewing The Game, the neo noir thriller was reviewed as average at best. Now Fincher has more films under his belt The Game is worthy of revisiting. Michael Douglas stars as Nicholas Van Orten, a cold and methodical business man who live alone in his stately home. He’s a lonely and haunted man, his father’s suicide still troubles him.
In step Sean Penn (on top manic form) as his wild brother Conrad, who has a belated present for him. A gift certificate from a company called CRS, confused by the gift Nicolas gives it no immediate thought. Whilst visiting clients, Nicolas finds himself in the same building as CRS and decides to see what it’s all about. After hours of tests Nicolas is no closer to knowing what they do, he’s simply told “One day your game begins, you either love it or hate it”.
The Game is a better film than I remember, it’s not without it’s flaws and it nearly becomes a victim of it’s own twisted logic. Douglas gives a solid performance, easily his best in a few years, as he hasn’t made many good movies since it’s also his most recent. It’s been well documented that The Game was originally intended to co star Jodie Foster alongside Michael Douglas, through script developments and a scheduling conflict for Foster the character was rewritten to be male and Sean Penn was cast. Although it’s said that Jeff Bridges was offered the part first. A few years later Foster got to finally work with Fincher on Panic Room, which I found to be a huge let down.
Fincher had wanted to make The Game before Se7en but when his first choice actor (Brad Pitt) became available The Game went on the back burner. Se7en was a huge hit at the box office and gave Fincher more clout to get a bigger budget, he drafted in Se7en’s writer Andrew Kevin Walker to polish up the script.
With all that extra time and development it’s a shame finished film isn’t the cult classic it should be. You’re never a full step ahead of Nicolas throughout the film. The twists and turns are just misdirection but they do a good job of making the audience question if it’s all just a game.
The Game might not be the perfect sunday afternoon movie choice, but if by chance you’re in the right mood it’s a highly enjoyable thriller. Incase you wondered what order I would rate the movies of David Fincher, wonder no more.
1. Fight Club
3. Social Network
5. The Game
6. Alien 3 (Work print version)
7. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button
8. Panic Room