The Game (1997)

“Discovering the object of the game is the object of the game.”

#1 of David Fincher Series

Fincher’s third feature film, following Se7en and right before Fight Club, this movie has Fincher written all over it. As the viewer, you yourself are part of The Game, trying to figure out who is behind the game and what the objective of it is. Impressively directed, The Game is a thriller that keeps you on your toes scene after scene and has you guessing until the very end.

Plot: Nicholas Van Orten (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy banker who has alienated himself from everyone who cares about him. He spends his 48th birthday mostly alone, except with the visit of his brother, Conrad (Sean Penn). Conrad gives him a gift certificate for “a game” that will change his life. Knowing absolutely nothing about it, Nicholas is skeptical but decides to try it out. Soon, Nicholas’ life is thrown for a spin as the game begins, and we are left just as curious as he is.

The thing about I really liked about this movie is that there was not a dull moment during it. From start to finish, Fincher paces the movie amazingly so as not to bore you for a second. This movie does require some sort of patience though, as you are just as confused as Douglas’ character up until the very end, but that’s the point. Excellent pacing, along with that dark and gritty look to the film that Fincher loves, The Game is full of suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The only big flaw with this film would be that it tries really hard to be realistic, yet there are many times where if you think about the plot too much it falls apart. The big company behind “the game”, called CRS, puts Nicholas through a series of events that could have gone horribly wrong if Nicholas’ actions didn’t go exactly the way CRS planned it. They try to back these plot holes up with the fact that at the beginning, CRS put Nicholas through a series of psychological tests so that they would know how he would react in any given situation, but what if by some unusual circumstance he decided not to do what CRS thought he would do? Again, this is only really a issue if you think about the plot too much and sometimes you just have to tell yourself “It’s just a movie” and get on with your life.

Michael Douglas is great as usual here. He brings so many sides to a character that in the beginning, felt one dimensional. Douglas makes it really interesting to see how Nicholas reacts in different situations and really brings life to the character. Sean Penn is excellent as well, but unfortunately he doesn’t get much screen time. In a movie such as this, where we really focus on just one person for so long, it really depends on Douglas. Him, along with excellent writing and directing decisions, really elevated this movie.

If you have seen and loved Fight Club or any other Fincher movie of that sort, I definitely give The Game a recommendation. Although it lacked just a certain something to have it be as good as Fight Club, it’s definitely an enjoyable watch if you like suspenseful movies. I was actually surprised I hadn’t really heard anything about it before I looked into Fincher a little more because I feel like this movie definitely deserved to have a little more praise. I don’t know, I wasn’t nearly old enough in 1997 to know if this was a hit or not, but with a movie like this it’s no surprise David Fincher is the big name he is today.

Rating: B+

UP NEXT—–>Zodiac

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