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The Game 1997

R

Nicholas Van Orton 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, 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.

Starring:
Michael Douglas, Sean Penn
Runtime:
2 hours, 8 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
On its 15th anniversary, The Game has been given its best treatment ever by the good folks at The Criterion Collection - it's never looked or sounded better!

I missed this movie in the theaters in 1997 but saw it immediately upon its video release and it instantly became one of my favorite thrillers. Michael Douglas is spot-on as an emotionally detached, wealthy investment banker given an unusual birthday gift from his younger brother. I actually prefer this performance over the similar but more bombastic role of Gordon Gekko. As Nicholas Van Orton, Douglas gets to breathe a full range of emotion into his character and he really makes the most of it. Sean Penn is great as usual as Van Orton's unstable brother Connie and Deborah Kara Unger turns in a strong performance as a mystery woman who may or may not be on Van Orton's side.

Where to rank this among David Fincher's other great films is hard to say (it's my 2nd favorite) but I would say that it is the most overlooked. I don't know if that's because of the simplistic name of the film, how it was marketed or something else entirely but like The Shawshank Redemption, it seem seems to be one of those films that most people discovered far beyond its initial release. Having just watched it again, I was delighted to see that it had not aged a bit - something that cannot be said of other films of the 90s which are already showing their age.

As I said, the film has never looked better. It was never given very good treatment on video as it was (and that's being charitable) but this version hits it out of the park. The dark scenes that dominate the film are more clear than ever and Fincher's use of colored light has dramatic impact.
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Format: DVD
What happens when you are a powerful multi-millionaire and have everything you ever wanted? While you and I might think this situation is highly desirable, for Nicholas Van Orton, played by Michael Douglas, it is very boring. In fact, you might say that Nicholas is miserable. However, Nicholas' brother Conrad Van Orton, played by Sean Penn, has bought Nicholas a gift for his 48th birthday, an invitation to play "The Game."

From this point forward the movie drags for what seems forever. I was beginning to regret watching this movie. Looking back, though, I now know that this beginning helps us to more fully understand how boring and awful Nicholas's life is, and provides an excellent contrast with what happens later in the movie.

Nicholas is in a very upscale restaurant when a waitress (Deborah Unger as Christine) spills wine on his shirt. Christine is fired by the restaurant manager and leaves, very upset. Before you can say white rabbit, a waiter rushes by Nicholas' table and drops off a note that tells Nicholas to follow the girl. Prepare for the roller coaster ride.

Within moments Nicholas finds himself involved with an apparently dying man, then just as quickly he finds he is being chased by the police, and police dogs, and things just get worse and worse. The list of things to which Nicholas is subjected is too long to describe, and would leave you with no surprises.

Nicholas tries to figure out how to make all the action and events to which he is being subjected stop. Nicholas can't handle the loss of control. Further, the chaos of his experiences seems to follow no pattern or order. Eventually Nicholas gets back to where he thinks it all began for a showdown that left me surprised and amazed.
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13 Comments 116 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
Once in a while you come across a great thriller. To accomplish this you have to have a great story line, superb acting and cinematography, a generous budget and an excellent styling consultant so that everything's just perfect. And The Game has all these aspects. A wealthy financier (Michael Douglas) who has apparently everything and is bored with life gets a surprise birthday gift from his brother (Sean Penn): the participation in a very interesting and intense game. It is one of these movies that is unpredictable for the most part with action scenes that will take your breath away. The ending is unique and an unpredictable surprise and it gives the movie the final edge to classify it as one of these rare top-rated thrillers.
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Format: DVD
I saw this movie when it first came out. Upon first viewing, I enjoyed it for several qualities. Director David Fincher provides a really creepy, eerie atmosphere to the story. The cinematography has a dark, eerie look (as in Seven). The music (such as the tinkering piano) has a way of creeping up on you. Michael Douglas is terrific, as usual. Towards the 2nd half however, I started to lose interest. I found the story was just cranking on and on with no point. By the end, I was dissappointed with the payoff. I felt it didn't have to go on so long to explain it's point. I guess this is the reason it didn't perform so well at the box office. The 2nd time I watched this was a different story. Knowing in advance about the ending, I could pay more attention to the meaning of all of the scenes (I don't want to give too much away). The early flashbacks are there to tell you what kind of unhappy, selfish, lonely person Douglas is like. As the movie progresses, you begin to see him changing as he is going through the game. This is the whole point of the story, not what is really going on. By the time the payoff has come around, you are touched with what has occured. The viewer is not really supposed to be surprised at the end, but emotionally moved. What I really would like to see someday is a DVD with Fincher's director's commentary. This is such a complex movie where each scene needs to be explained. I hope David Fincher does that someday (like the new Seven DVD). One minor note: For those of you complaining about how far fetched the movie is, this movie is supposed to be unreal. I could not believe one minute of it, but Fincher makes it clear he doesn't want you to believe in it. The Game is part mystery, part fantasy (as in the Twilight Zone).
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