Cert: 15 Runtime: 129 mins Director: David Fincher Cast: Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Penn, Peter Donat and James Rebhorn
I don’t care about the money. I’m pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard
David Fincher will be returning to the big screen with Gone Girl this week, for me he is one of the best living directors on the planet. The Game is one of his maybe not everyone has seen, but should be. What is The Game all about you ask? Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide) his brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who has gone long ago and surrendered to addictions of all kinds, suddenly returns and gives Nicholas a card giving him entry to unusual entertainment provided by something called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Giving up to curiosity, Nicholas visits CRS and all kinds of weird and bad things start to happen to him.
The Game is never really mentioned when talking about Fincher and his body of work, good or bad it gets left on the cutting room floor. I guess it’s because the film is the middleman sort to speak. You have Se7en, and Fight Club, his two most popular and fan favourite films. Then you have Panic Room and Alien 3, considered lower calibre. Zodiac,Benjamin Button, The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo seem to be in a totally different class here, but The Game deserves to be mentioned because it is a well written, thought provoking thriller that manages to peel away at it’s mysteries and never have the viewer bored. Even the film’s ending, which many people seem to complain about, did not make me hate the film, or think the first 80 or so minutes were a waste. The film looks and feels just like Fincher’s others. It’s cold, dark and unforgiving. He manages to craft his most suspenseful film to date and having Michael Douglas run around trying to solve the mystery helps the case. I’m a sucker for films full of mystery, that slowly but surely peel away at those mysteries to reveal the truth. A lot of crime films are like this, but The Game is something different. A bit more psychological, another reason why I liked it so much. Much like Memento, we are lost like the lead character. We know it’s a game, he knows it’s a game. But we, nor him, know exactly what the game is or what is happening next. We are trying to solve the same mysteries and Fincher makes us care about these things. Complaints for the film are ones that would have me base the film is reality. To believe the stuff that happens in the film is for one to suspend a lot of belief.
The film ends in a way that made me think whether I liked it or not. I would have preferred the first ending, as opposed to the second one, but the way they did it didn’t ruin the film. I’m not sure how I will feel on repeated viewings, but as it stands, the thrills were still there and I still enjoyed them. I’m still left with some character motivation questions, some that I will not go into for the sake of spoiling things in the film. Douglas, whom I usually hate, does a great job here. He is a jerk that slowly begins to unwind his sanity. His Gordon Gekko demeanor works here and yet we still root for his character. Sean Penn has a small role, one too small for me to really comment on and the supporting cast usually only have a scene or two to do anything. Deborah Kara Unger plays a good role in which we have to decide whether or not we trust her. She usually plays wackos. The Game is something that might frustrate you with the ending, but that’s what films are all about, getting some kind of emotional response. I’m not a fan of the last 3 or 4 minutes, to me it seemed to be tacked on by pressure of the studio and would not be something Fincher would normally do. But in the end, The Game is a worthy film if you are looking for a suspenseful thriller.