It's all just a game. Or is it?I'll say this for the movie: this is one flick where we don't have the obligatory Mike Douglas-banging-some-woman-from-behind-butt-shot, a la Basic Instinct. No sir, he's too busy running from a personalized birthday present to be making time with the ladies. Which is a shame, because this movie could've used a scene with Jeanne Trippelhorn. But I digress.
The Game works on a few levels. Visually, it's very appealing. David Fincher really uses shadow's to the film's advantage, and it's very dark, even when it's broad daylight during a scene. Unlike Seven (or Se7en, if you prefer), where it's raining during the entire film, Fincher keeps everything free and clear. But still dark. The movie also takes paranoia to new levels. Who's in on it? You're never quite sure. Everybody, probably. The story's interesting, to say the least.
Douglas also is quite good. He rebounds nicely from The Ghost and The Darkness. It's a decent performance, and you keep wondering if he'll go off the deep end like he did in Falling Down.
But that's where the praise ends.
The very title "the game" is what deflates any suspense. What's missing, essentially, is motive. Why would brother Sean Penn set Mike up for such an elaborate death? Does he stand to gain? And why does Deborah Kara Unger keep showing up at the oddest times? Is she involved or does she just have an uncanny sense of timing?
Is the movie scary? Nope. Creepy? You bet. There's nothing quite so unsettling as when a TV anchorperson starts talking to Douglas directly through his television. Someone, somewhere, is always watching, and we're neer quite sure who's in on it...the hotel clerk? The homelss guy? Sean Penn?
Is there suspense? Yes, but not in the sense that you're wondering, "is that really Gwyneth Paltrow's head in a box?" It's suspense in that there are so many twists to the film that when the conclusion finally comes to a head (no pun intended), you're exhausted from the chase itself. But the finale lets you down. It's not the fault of Fincher or the cast. The blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the writers (4 of them, 2 uncredited).Nice buildup. Terrible conclusion.