The Game (1997)

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Director: David Fincher

Writers: John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris

Starring: Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger, Sean Penn

Rating:★★★★

The Game is a film which more than any other fulfils its “mystery thriller” genre as throughout it is a guessing game, making you constantly choose between fantasy and reality leading to some thrilling consequences. David Fincher again involves himself in a very dark-viewed story which can be somewhat haunting at times. Excellent acting alongside the great story highlighted by the final scenes really makes The Game an entertaining and intriguing film to watch but one which really tests your mind.

We follow the life of Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) a very wealthy San Francisco banker, however his wealth and intelligence does not fill the gap of being an absolute loner which sees him even spending his birthday with only himself for company.  In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father sadly committed suicide) Nicholas’ brother Conrad (Sean Penn) returns with the greeting of a card which allows entry to unusual entertainment, a game provided by Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Conrad however is not an equal to his brother, an addict to all kinds who’s surrendered to paranoia and fear. Giving in to curiosity Nicholas enrols to CRS and plays his own Game however as a consequence his life becomes a nightmare which sees him question what is real and what is the game eventually it consumes his life.

The story is something which The Game really thrives off and more so gains a lot of interest, the ending is something which is a huge plot twist and paradigm shift within Nicholas’s world too. Alongside being very intriguing and connecting the story also invests a lot into the building of three very unique characters. Nicholas is a character which is very true; rich and intelligent but envious of those with social popularity and a life something we could see being very realistic, the change which he shows throughout is very well written. The character of Conrad is also very important not only does he get the plot moving but the action; he’s dangerous and lethal bringing a lot of pace to the film. The third character is Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) who brings pace but the development needed for Nicholas as they form a not so conventional relationship.

The acting is good all-around from the cast, Michael Douglas however is the highlight as Nicholas Van Orton and his scenes and portrayal comes across very realistic. David Fincher’s direction for me is also a significant element which makes The Game somewhat haunting and thrilling. As always associating himself with a dark story some scenes are flawless as dark dismal settings are portrayed much like in Alien3 and Se7en bringing a very doomy atmosphere to the screen. He also chooses to use similar score to create this very droning and foreboding mood which as an audience makes us alert and on-edge.

The only thing which ruins The Game is at times the balance between pace is very bad, it would have benefited more from a constant fast-pace which would add to the excitement despite taking away some intrusive feel.  Despite the ending wrapping up everything very well before this the mixture between reality and “the game” can be somewhat frustrating to watch, but once reflected upon afterwards it seems to be a clever aspect which only draws the audience into this false sense of security.

The Game is a film which is very worth-while to watch not only for a very good finale but for its entertainment and ability to test not only your mind but your sense of safety within reality throughout its running time. Alongside being entertaining it is also very thrilling as its burst of pace and action complemented by Fincher’s direction is effective also creating a sense of horror. Rounded off by a great performance by Michael Douglas The Game outweighs its minor downfalls and becomes an almost classic piece of film.

 

 

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