The Game (1997)
It may be a tad too predictable, bland, and overcompensating, which would make The Game David Fincher’s most tame chapter to date. That being said, a mediocre Fincher film is still a hell of a lot better than most of the weekly releases that lack emotion, intelligence, and pride. Don’t get me wrong, The Game is entertaining and it still stirs up deep questions and arguments about the human condition. It’s just that throughout the film you’re constantly being led to believe that your going to be wowed at some point and while it may set its sights high, it doesn’t fully reach them. The Game stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn as brothers who have become distanced and unfamiliar. With a script strong enough to evoke a response and its two leads doing their best to make up for what is lacking. The Game is a fine outline of what Fincher is capable of and is an early look into the mind we’ve come to expect big things from. Despite its straight and narrow storyline, it’s still more captivating and rewarding than most half assed attempts at psychological thrillers.
Nicholas (Douglas) is a wealthy banker residing in San Francisco. His attitude and tastes are suited to a man of his stature and he embraces the loneliness that comes with importance. Nicholas has reached the age of 48 which is the same age his father committed suicide. When he meets with his brother Conrad (Penn), he receives an unexpected gift. It is some sort of gift card that gives Nicolas access to a unique form of entertainment. Giving in to his urges, Nicolas redeems the card and is transported into a surreal world of confusion and violence.
The Game still may be able to catch a few off guard and provide a slight surprise but for the majority, what it’s building up to is visible from the get go. I’m trying my best not to bad mouth a piece of Fincher’s collection because I enjoyed the film and love Fincher, it just wasn’t what I expected. The acting good and the point it drives towards is relevant. The significance in the lesson is valuable to each individual, it just could have been masked better through a bit more deception and creativity. The game is a respectable piece of cinema, but it is sandwiched between two of the most celebrated films of all time (Seven and Fight Club). Maybe it’s the simple fact that in comparison to its predecessor and follow up, The Game just doesn’t perform as well and is forgotten, thus leading to the reason why I cut it some slack. The Game is a Fincher film, however brooding and atmospheric, it is a safe attempt. The plot and characters are just intriguing enough to drag you along for the ride. Long after the film finishes, it sticks like a splinter in your brain and grows on you with each passing day. Soon, The Game will make its way into your collection respectably and will always be a stepping stone for the magnificent director we know as David Fincher.
The Game: 7 out of 10.