Oct 8, 2010

[Movies] The Game (1997)

The Game (1997)We live in special times - or at least a time in movie history when special effects are really making a killing. And I'm not just talking about the action movies with all their explosions and the like. Special effects seem especially worked into a wide variety of movie genres and story types by inserting exotic locales as backgrounds, replicated a small group into an angry mob or even just making the actors look somehow younger. This can get pretty distracting sometimes and we end up with poor movies that don't have much to say since they spent all their money on effects.

And thus when you look back at older films, you can't help but be impressed with the quality of the worksmanship involved in their creation. Movies were mostly carried by the strength of their stories (and they still should, but some now argue this point) since there wasn't much else. Sure, the actig and the effects can be spectacular but it's nothing without a solid story to hold the whole thing together.

My partner was the one who got me to watch this movie - as is often the face given our on-going "cultural exchange program" of sorts between two geeks in love. He was a strong advocate for this movie and in the end I could understand why he felt as strongly as he does.

The Game is a psychological thriller directed by David Fincher of Fight Club and more recently The Social Network fame. It's said that he was originally supposed to film this movie before Se7en, but Brad Pitt's availability became the priority.

Michael Douglas. The Photo was taken at the Ci...Image via WikipediaThe movie focuses on largely successful investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), who is estranged from his ex-wife and his brother. Their family has a rather traumatic past given their father committed suicide on his 48th birthday, a death that Nicholas witnessed himself. Thus on his 48th birthday, his brother Conrad (Sean Pean) offers him a unique gift - a voucher from a company called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS) for a highly involving "game" that would somehow change his life. Initially skeptical about the whole affair, Nicholas eventually becomes curious after a chance encounter with someone else who had played the game, he proceeds to CRS' office in order to find out more.

They subject him to a series of strenuous physical and psychological tests and assessments in order to determine his eligibility for the game but is ultimately informed a few days later that his application was rejected. Despite this, strange events start to happen and Nicholas realizes the game is real and that it has already begun. He starts to receive a strange series of clues such as a key or a crank handle while disturbing things keep happening such as finding falsified blackmail photos all over his hotel room. His only clue to unraveling this whole mystery is a waitress named Christine (Deborah Kara Unger), who lost her job after accidentally spilling his drink on him at a restaurant.

The core of the movie is the mystery of whether or not this is actually a game or some elaborate conspiracy of sorts that Nicholas is entangled in. Thus as the stories progresses, you'll find yourself pulled into different directions as the movie plays out and leaves you with a more than generous amount of "red herrings" to throw you off the scent. And just when you think you have everything figured out, expect to be (pleasantly) surprised with yet another plot twist as the action and the thrill of the whole plot continues on.

Michael Douglas was definitely well suited to the role and he manages to convey the wide range of emotions that Nicholas goes through as he tries to keep his life together. But of course the external forces pose too great a challenge and he finds the world tumbling out of control. And Fincher certainly puts together a very complicated web of truths and lies for Douglas to try and navigate, something he does in a manner that remains classy, intelligent and yet very real.

The Game is an excellent movie and not for the faint of heart. The thriller aspect to things is more related to the fear it implants in the viewer thinking about how he or she might react to this kind of an extreme situation with your entire life at stake. It gets 5 disturbing clown mannequins out of a possible 5.

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