Friday, 5 March 2010

No.16 : The Game



We stay in San Francisco for our next offering that sees Michael Douglas go on the game. Well the recession has hit Wall Street hard and all.

Naw, not really although I’m sure that would be a jolly romp. ’The Game’ sees Douglas as a ruthless and driven businessman who has no time for anyone and who has never gotten over his father’s suicide. After a few scenes of him being cold and detached he meets up with his ner do well brother, Sean Penn, who has got him an invite to a mysterious organisation for his birthday.

Douglas is less than impressed but chooses to have a look when he’s on other business in the building where the mysterious organisation is based. When I get a present like this it’s usually a chance to subscribe to some timeshare newsletter but not here, this is the movies you understand. After a battery of tests which include questions about animals and masturbation (was Richard Gere originally meant to star?) Douglas is soon informed that he’s failed the test which presumably is game speak for ’passed’ as stuff starts to happen pretty much right away.

The scale and scope of ‘the game’ is soon made clear when a news anchorman starts to address Douglas personally mid broadcast. Soon Douglas is seeing operatives real and imagined around every corner and the paranoia begins. He hooks up with a mouthy and knicker free waitress on a mild adventure that involves some modest climbing but that’s just an taster for the fun ahead.

Douglas soon sees his buttoned down life unravel and before long he finds himself begging in Mexico. We start to wonder if it all is really a game or whether that’s just the front of a sinister organisation dedicated to relieving people of their cash. The previously cosseted Douglas manages to find reserves of strength and ingenuity he never knew he had but will it be enough to recover his cash and expose ‘the game’ for what it is?

I really like this film which is directed by ‘Se7en’ maestro David Fincher. Douglas basically starts out as Gordon Gekko and ends up a sort of Bruce Willis with floppy hair. I did think his character embraced the idea of the game a bit too readily but that could be explained by his keenness to keep his brother happy. A few times I felt that he should really stop and say ‘that’s it’ instead of running from the cops or brandishing a gun but I guess if you watch ‘the game’ you want to see it played out.

The schemes and deceptions were well played and not so elaborate that you’d thing that they’d never work in the real world. Of course many of them rely on Douglas doing what they expected but again this was covered by the extensive testing. The only real flaw was that there weren’t any - in the real world you’d turn a corner and find the hit man looking at his lines or you’d know the ‘waitress’ from some sitcom or other.

Douglas does well in a quite demanding role than needs him to by cynical and gullible all at once. When he loses all his cash and has to break into his own house he is perhaps a little too grounded and his mania never quite reaches the heights of ‘Falling Down’. Of the second string Penn does OK as the shiftless brother although I’m sure most of his stuff was filmed in a day.

Overall the film has a great sense of paranoia and although I never bought that the game was any more than just that I was buying the fact that Douglas’ character did. The idea of a big conspiracy is a well worn one but it’s always fun to see spooks and ciphers behind every pillar and in plain sight too. The ending may have been somewhat pat and Hollywood but I think it was earned and a fine climax to an above par thriller.

THE Tag Line : Good Game Good Game 75%

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