The Game is a 1997 psychological thriller film directed by David Fincher, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, produced by Propaganda Films, and distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment. The film stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. It was not nominated for any Academy Awards.
"What do you get for a man that has...everything?" -Conrad Van Orton
Investment banker Nicholas Van Orton is incredibly rich but also incredibly lonely. He is celebrating his 48th birthday alone, still traumatized by watching his father kill himself when the latter turned 48. When his brother gives him a voucher to a game, Nicholas decides to introduce a little bit of fun into his life. However, as the game grows increasingly strange and dangerous, Nicholas begins fearing for his life as he tries to escape from the game without knowing who he can trust.
The first and biggest thing about this movie is the suspense and mystery. The film keeps you on the edge of your seat at all times. There is so much thrill and interest in what's happening on screen that you completely forget that you are watching a movie. After the movie is over, you will be looking around and making sure that nobody is watching you. It is incredibly intense and spooky. This is a truly thrilling film.
The plot to this movie is also very mysterious and dramatic. It is a well-written script, that keeps you guessing as to what the game is going to bring next. This film is incredibly unique, which is another good thing. Movies should always be new, even remakes. Every movie should have memorable moments that you can't get from any other film, and The Game has a lot of that.
The next thing is how immersed you get in the film. The film makes you feel like you are going crazy. You begin to feel as though you are Nicholas Van Orton until the very end. You know what choices he's going to make. It feels like you know everybody in this game. The movie itself feels like a game, and it really digs deep into that idea.
Michael Douglas is fantastic (as usual) in this. He is very good at being naive when it comes to knowledge about the game. When the thrill and suspense and horror, even, start to pick up, he is very good at going crazy. The supporting cast, which includes Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, and James Rebhorn is very good also. They are all mysterious enough where you can suspect them while also hoping that they help Nicholas.
The tone is very consistent throughout. It is a pretty dark movie, and it stays sad and dark throughout. This also has some of the creepiest music I have ever heard in a movie. Whenever something bad is about to happen, there is a simple, high piano note heard. It is truly chilling.
The final thing is the ending. I will not spoil anything, but there is a couple of twists and turns. It is going to leave you wondering what you just saw. It isn't completely logical, but it is kind of crazy.
The biggest thing here is the plot near the end. The plot flies into all different directions. You begin to question what's actually happening, who's working for the game, and what is true. That can be a good thing is some movies, but it can also be a bad thing. It is not a good thing in this case. The ending has some good parts, but it does also have some negatives. The negatives are less prominent, but they are still there. There is way too much stuffed into this ending. It feels like the screenwriters, directors and producers all met together and suggested different endings. In the end, it feels like they took the three or four best ideas that they got and put it into the film.
That is really the biggest negative that I have. The other one is somewhat minor, but I don't think that the way that they revealed Nicholas' father's death was executed as well as it could be. The reveal just isn't very crisp, and it feels somewhat irrelevant until the very end. There are a lot of references to the death, but they don't really mean anything.
This is a great suspense and thriller film. Despite a messy ending, it is very consistent in every other category.
The movie gets a Sweet rating. Age range is 14+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Fun Factor: 10/10
WHERE TO WATCH
Amazon Prime Video: Available for rent
Apple TV+: Available for rent
Directed by David Fincher
Released on September 12, 1997
Rated R for violence, language, disturbing images
2 hours and 9 minutes
Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn as Conrad Van Orton
Deborah Kara Unger as Christine
James Rebhorn as Jim Feingold
Carroll Baker as Ilsa