Ripley's Game (2002) Poster


User Reviews

Add a Review
110 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
Never on the big screen, let it live long on DVD
Greg31 March 2004
`Coming soon to a theatre near you'. It's a phrase we hear or read in upwards of 7 times before each new movie we watch in the theatre. The trailers that precede this announcement come with both anticipation and expectation.

I remember sitting in a theatre, what seems like years ago now, and viewing the trailer for Ripley's Game starring John Malkovich. I wondered if it was a sequel to the Matt Damon vehicle, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and I raced home to find that was exactly the case. Looking back, I cannot remember a date being flashed across the screen as to when Ripley's Game would be accessible, but usually it only takes a few months before our thirsts are quenched.

Then came 2004, and my local DVD provider began to advertise Ripley's Game as an upcoming release on disc. At first, I couldn't remember why the name was so familiar, but after a quick internet check, I found that two years later, Ripley's Game was being released without ever hitting a theatrical venue in North America. Too bad.

Ripley's Game gives us an older Tom Ripley. Gone are the chiseled good looks and innocent smile of Matt Damon and in are the glacial stares of the stoic Malkovich. When we catch up to Tom he is still the con man brokering an art forgery transaction that leaves one dead and Ripley unamused. We quickly forward ahead three years to Italy where we find Ripley in his favorable environment. Tom is living in a luxurious villa and has a woman he completely adores.

Ripley's old life soon catches up with him and a former associate looks to Tom for help with some Russian mafia types. Ripley suggests the use of an ‘innocent' for the job and gives him the name of a fellow countryman Tom has a slight distaste. Soon the novice is coerced into contract killings becomes part of Ripley's dastardly web of deception and murder, and the two join forces to first complete a contract and then later to save each other's lives.

It's great to have a film that picks up a fascinating character years after. Wouldn't you like to see what Forrest Gump is up to in 2004? Or what about Elliot from E.T. or Michael Douglas from Fatal Attraction? Without parading sequels that try and catch a character one second from the time the final frame of the original finished, wouldn't it be fresh to check in on some of our faves? Well Ripley's Game does just that.

As Ripley, Malkovich gives us an incredibly restrained performance. He kept me thinking that this is probably what Hannibal Lecter would be like if he had a family or other interests. Whether he is talking to someone about the restoration of a vintage piano or killing someone in a train's restroom, his pulse never seems to race nor does he seem terribly concerned about the chaos left in his wake.

Even when he surprises us by showing up to help the same man he pulled into his world, we don't see it as guilt or an attempt to show dominance in the world of criminal activity. Instead, Malkovich projects a man who is just going about his business no matter what the reprehensible activity may encompass.

Ripley's game is an exceptional film that unfortunately got ignored by the Hollywood studio system. Maybe they were too busy with the Lord of the Rings trilogies. But, if I were to add up all the movie tickets for movies like Eurotrip, 50 First Dates and Starsky & Hutch, it even seems more of a waste that I wasn't given the opportunity to get comfortable in the local multi-plex for Ripley.
82 out of 100 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good adaptation about the famous character with extraordinary acting by Malkovich
ma-cortes26 December 2005
The picture focuses on Tom Ripley (John Malkovich) , a cold and cult assassin . At the beginning , the cool Ripley and his associate (Ray Winstone) are planning a swindle which goes wrong . After that , the wealthy as well as ruthless killer convinces a man (Dougray Scott) happily married (Lena Headley) to execute a crime on a mobster for a great amount of money ; but the happenings go out of control and the cruel gangsters seek vengeance .

This provoking film is an exciting thriller and superbly interpreted . In the picture there is drama , action , tension , intrigue and a little bit of violence when the murders happen . From start to finish the suspense is continuous and that's why it is entertaining . Acting by John Malkovich is top-notch , he's excellent as Ripley , an urbane , and literate -but brutal- murderer with exquisite manners living luxuriously in a villa in the Veneto . Dougray Scott as the ill-fated and victim of his play gives a first-rate interpretation . Ray Winstone plays correctly an avaricious and savage nasty . Fascinating musical score by the great Ennio Morricone . Glimmer and watchable cinematography by Alfio Contini who shows stunningly the Italian palaces , theaters and interior scenarios . The film is based on Patricia Highsmith novel , whose Ripley personage has been well adapted in former versions as ¨Blazing sun¨ (Rene Clair with Alain Delon) and ¨The talented Mr.Ripley¨ (Anthony Minghella with Matt Damon) . The motion picture was rightly directed by Liliana Cavani (The night porter , Francesco) . However , financial problems and former commitment to direct an opera caused Cavani had to leave the production before final shooting and Malkovich , then , took over and completed the movie . The flick will appeal to John Malkovich fans . Rating : interesting and well worth seeing .
37 out of 43 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Most Dangerous Game
Cowman13 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
For every mediocre movie that makes it to the theater, another far superior movie will lay dormant and unseen, never quite making it to the big screen. There is possibility that the latter film will become a "sleeper" hit at the video rental store, but even so, the fact that it never even got a chance at becoming a box office success is pure cinematic injustice. Never have I felt so strongly about this belief than after my recent viewing of Liliana Cavani's thoughtful, stylish thriller, RIPLEY'S GAME.


Though apparently screened elsewhere in the world, RIPLEY'S GAME was never given a theatrical release in the United States. Though I don't know the exact reason for this, my guess is because of its subject matter. For one thing, the distributors probably felt it was too intellectual for the average moviegoer. Moreover, Ripley's Game is very dark and unsettling, almost overwhelmingly so; and even the most seasoned fans of suspense flicks may have a hard time digesting the events depicted onscreen. Another reason may have been because the movie has the anti-hero come out strong in the end, which goes against our country's traditional "the good guy always wins" plot structure. But whatever the answer, one thing is for certain: it's a shame that the American people were never given the chance to see this wonderful movie the same way the rest of the world was.

Based on the central character of a successful series of novels, the "talented improviser" Tom Ripley is played by veteran actor John Malkovich. Normally a character as ruthless and complex as Ripley would be too unbelievable to accept, no matter who the performer. Malkovich, however, plays his part with the utmost precision, contributing so many subtle eccentricities and nuances to his character that Tom Ripley seems to come alive with the most frightening realism.

Tom Ripley is an extremely complicated and multifaceted character. Within his words and actions lie many contradictions. Despite his evident lack of a conscience, he does show a hint of compassion every now and then. His unexpected appearance on the train and his willingness carry out the murders for Jonathan shows that Ripley is indeed sympathetic of him and his plight, and perhaps even fascinated by his vulnerability. Jonathan is also the only character (aside from Ripley's lover, Luisa) who he opens up to, sharing intimate details about his childhood and his feelings. It is during these moments when we really see the private, humanistic side of Ripley, and not just the smug, cold-blooded façade that he shows to everybody else.

On the flipside, Jonathan is just as enthralled with Ripley as Ripley is of Jonathan. While Ripley is drawn to Jonathan because of his indelible purity, Jonathan seems to secretly admire Ripley's "live-fast" persona; and now, with the recent news of his leukemia, Jonathan probably feels the need to experience life at its fullest-something he knows Ripley does every day. This would explain why he continues to associate himself with Ripley, allowing himself to fall deeper and deeper into a pit of danger and excitement. His moment of triumph comes when he takes a bullet for Ripley, which not only represents a form of payment he felt he was indebted to Ripley, but also acted as "cure" for all the problems in his life-especially his terminal illness. Therefore, he was able to "beat" leukemia before it was able to kill him, and instead die in a way that was heroic, exciting, and memorable. This ultimate act of courage, love, and spontaneity in such a predictable human being shocked and puzzled Ripley, a feat which must be nearly impossible considering his utter lack of emotion. In this way, Jonathan was able to beat Ripley at his own game.

Aside from this one interpretation, the movie's title works on a number of other levels as well. Ripley views his "every-man-for-himself" lifestyle as a game that he is continuously playing, but that can never truly be won. Likewise, fellow con artists and criminals are forced to play Ripley's game when negotiating with him, testing their wits to see if they are clever enough to scam him. Of course, the meaning of the title isn't set in stone, and each viewer is likely to interpret it differently. Also, because of the cerebral, subjective nature of this film, multiple viewings will no doubt yield multiple interpretations in most viewers.

One of the high points of RIPLEY'S GAME is its somber, creepy mood, which is enhanced greatly by the film's music and art direction. The otherworldly harpsichord soundtrack coupled with the lavish, almost heavenly decoration of Ripley's mansion is breathtaking, and succeeds in making Ripley and his lover seem "above" the audience in all respects. The camera always pans very slowly as it shows the soothing, elegant artwork in the background, emphasizing Ripley's permanent calmness, even in the most harrowing situations. It's the subtle, almost unnoticeable touches like these that make this film so disconcerting.

RIPLEY'S GAME is proof positive that a movie doesn't have to be a financial success in order to be worth watching. Despite its relative obscurity, this brainy, satisfying thriller has a lot to offer.
15 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The worst man wins
Chris Knipp8 April 2004
[s p o i l e r s]

There have been many cinematic Highsmith stories, and even many filmed Tom Ripley's. Why another one? Well, as I am hardly the first to say – Ripley's Game came out in England last summer, and had a brief theatrical showing in New York several months ago – there are ways in which John Malkovich was both born and bred to play the mature Mr. Ripley. Give the young one to Alain Delon or Matt Dillon: both were arguable versions of the fledgling scoundrel. But it's uncanny how well Malkovich wears the skin of the grown man. And it's cruelly weird that in America a film of this caliber could have been sent straight to DVD.

Life requires action, sometimes the slow patience of the lizard, other times the gift of abrupt violence. Ripley's accomplished murders and thefts, so bold, so risky, so improvisational, prove that he possesses the existential courage one needs to survive and enjoy life. As his reward for jobs well done, Tom occupies an expansive Palladian villa in Treviso with a beautiful harpsichordist. He enjoys the best wines, the best cars, and the best risotto made from truffles in his kitchen by the best cook in the Veneto. He knows the difference between a Guercino and a Parmigianino and he's never anything but well dressed. Markovich serves the role as well as it serves him: isn't he, like Ripley, a brash American turned well-heeled European sybarite?

The paradox of the Ripley novels is that a master criminal may also be good at the art of living, and the tricky thing about watching Malkovich is that one may be tempted to admire him. This isn't a new experience for the reader of Highsmith's many novels, particularly the Ripley ones: to enter the world of her criminals has the appeal of being bad and getting away with it. As Graham Greene famously said, `[Highsmith] has created a world of her own – a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger.' And yet within the first ten minutes we see Ripley kill a man with a poker for little more than mishandling some renaissance drawings.

The perfect foil for Ripley in the movie is Trevanny (Dugray Scott), a man whom fatal illness has given an edge of desperate bravado, but who remains sensitive to moral values. Eventually after being lured into committing a serious crime for big money (which he can leave to his wife and young son), Trevanny waits with Ripley in the villa for some gangsters bent on revenge and as they chat to pass the time he remarks that in school he always got caught.

Tom smiles and says, `You know why? Because you didn't think of just killing your teachers!'

John Malkovich hasn't very often played a nice person. Yes, he's been Biff in Death of a Salesman and Tom in The Glass Menagerie, but then we get to Lennie in Of Mice and Men and (triumphantly) Valmont in Dangerous Acquaintances and Gilbert Osmond in Portrait of a Lady. In between he has been an out and out villain as in In the Line of Fire, or supercilious prigs like Port in The Sheltering Sky and Jake in The Object of Beauty. Tom Ripley is Malkovich's triumph. It combines all of these. Is it a surprise that playing the wickedest man of all, he has never been more appealing? Finally all his slimy traits here come together. This is what he's about, we say. At last it all makes sense. Being Ripley has never been more fun and that's because the role fits the actor like a glove. There's something sublimely ugly about him that reminds us that good looks are not the only attractive features in a man. There is also power, taste, and originality. He's elegant, he's an esthete, and he's smart. When Reeves asks him if he has the extra fifty thousand he's offering, he just snaps his cell phone shut. The ruthless man is also impatient with stupidity.

This is an actor's film. Ray Winstone is superb in the smaller role of the abominable, self satisfied lowlife Reeves who comes to Ripley to get a murder done. Reeves is little more than a pretext for a caper, a reason for coming out of retirement, but Winstone makes him forward without ever being overdrawn. Dugray Scott is Trevanny, the picture framer in the Italian town near which Ripley lives who has acute myelogenous leukemia. Scott is an actor who looks both handsome and unwell. He may suffer a little too much, but he also has an admirable recessiveness that keeps the glamour Cavani spreads over her characters (they're all a bit too well dressed, but this film comes out of Italy, the land of 'bella figura') from overwhelming his essential weakness. He also illustrates the strength that comes to desperate men. He gets just as mean as Ripley toward the end, and he dies with a smile on his face.

This film shows us the two essential elements of Patricia Highmith's books: Tom Ripley is pure evil; and it's a lot of fun to be him. Cavani's suave Game gives the Devil his due. People unfamiliar with the Highsmithian sensibility may find the end unsatisfying. But it is perfectly in character.
52 out of 68 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Lacks probing subtlety
Howard Schumann12 April 2004
In Ripley's Game, the latest screen adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's series of novels, John Malkovich plays Tom Ripley, the bisexual art connoisseur whose game is manipulation of people for his own ends. The film directed by 70-year old Liliana Cavani, is entertaining but lacks the probing subtlety of Wim Wenders The American Friend, a 1979 Ripley adaptation. Ripley is an unscrupulous art dealer and also a cold-blooded killer. He is cerebral, wealthy, charming, talented, and entirely without principle with something clever to say about everything, even murder. "The most interesting thing", he says, "about doing something terrible is often, in a few days, you can't even remember it." Ripley justifies his acts by saying that they rid the world of useless predators. Malkovich's performance keeps the film afloat, though his smug, sinister persona often borders on camp and Dougray Scott is unconvincing as picture framer Jonathan Trevanny.

Ripley's Game takes place about twenty years after Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley leaves off. Ripley (Malkovich) has married into wealth and now resides in a luxurious Italian villa with his wife Luisa (Chiara Caselli), a professional harpsichord player. When an old crony, Reeves (Ray Winstone) asks him for help in dealing with Berlin mobsters threatening his business, Ripley thinks of a local art restorer and picture framer, Jonathan Trevanny (Scott) who is known to be dying of leukemia. Trevanny is a good candidate in Ripley's mind because he recently insulted him at a party by blurting out "That's the trouble with Ripley-too much money and no taste." Ripley's interest, however, is mostly in the pleasure involved of seeing a mild family man turned into a cold-blooded assassin, no matter how implausible the scenario might be. Trevanny falls for the bait and collects $100,000 to kill a Russian at the zoo.

As one hit deserves another, a second more dangerous plot is hatched to take place on a crowded train but Ripley has to come to Trevanny's rescue when too many bad guys show up. Afterwards, events begin spiraling out of control forcing the picture framer to hide the truth from his wife Sarah (Lena Headley). Though Malkovich fits into the role perfectly, Scott's performance provides little insight into what led a decent family man to become a paid killer. The ending, which could have been suspenseful, is simply unpleasant as the body count escalates. Though beautifully photographed and filled with dark humor, there is little at stake in Ripley's Game and the entire project feels unimportant as reflected in the studio's decision to bypass a theatrical release and send it straight to DVD.
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Ripley, c'est moi
maribert14 January 2005
I have always thought that Patricia Highsmith's Ripley novels were aimed (like a missile) at the reader. So, the films. One's immediate reaction to Ripley tells more about the viewer/reader than anything at all about Ripley. His charm is that he is absolutely immoral in a pseudo-moral universe of sentimentality passing for decency. He has taken the society's values, not at their word, but at their obvious meaning: benefit yourself at all cost; nothing is more important than your own welfare; if it seems necessary, do it - you can probably always get out of the consequences. He is popular with us all, not because he is a snob, or a cad, or a mediocrity,although he may be all of those things. He is popular because we recognize ourselves in him. This film portrays the Highsmith character fully and true to the novels. I found Malkovich, who I usually dislike, perfect in the role and the other actors are excellent. Being a European production makes it easier to avoid the soppiness of The Talented Mr. Ripley, a truly dreadful film to my mind. The score was a grand addition as was the perfect lighting and ambiance of the sets - brilliantly dark, full of the emptiness of a reality so flatly conveyed.I will be happy to see it again.
51 out of 72 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A hired assassin
jotix10017 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
We find Tom Ripley living in luxury in one of the most spectacular Palladian villas in the middle of the beautiful Northern Italian setting. He is a man of excellent taste, as proved by the transformation he made on the villa. Since Ripley appears to be retired now, it's a surprise when someone from his past, Reeves, a Cockney gangster, comes to see him.

Ripley feels slighted by a local picture framer, a British young man trying to make ends meet. When Ripley is invited to a party at Jonathan's house, he overhears his host talking about him in the most shameless fashion. When Reeves appears on the scene, he realizes how is he going to get even with Jonathan. By recommending the man who spoke unkindly about him to Reeves, he will get his own revenge.

Since Jonathan is suffering from leukemia, Reeves entices him to perform a nasty job for him in Berlin and with the offer goes a visit to one of the top doctors in Germany. Jonathan, who feels repulsed by the indecent proposition realizes how cash strapped he is and complies, albeit reluctantly, with the gangster.

Of course, Jonathan is now vulnerable and Reeves knows perfectly well what he will ask him to do next. The second job involves the elimination of a mafioso that is causing problems for Reeves. Jonathan receives specific instructions about how to do the job, which is to take place on a train. To his surprise, Jonathan discovers that Ripley has come to help him. Tom feels his revenge on the picture framer is past history and since Jonathan is married and has a small boy, he steps into action.

Tom Ripley, is one of the most sophisticated bad guys ever created by the excellent Patricia Highsmith. This cool man is capable of doing some of the most daring things. Liliana Cavani, an Italian director with an eye for detail, set this story in her native land and also contributed with the adaptation of the novel with Charles McKeown. The result is an enjoyable film that will impress fans of this genre.

John Malkevich does a fabulous job with Tom Ripley. Mr. Malkovich clearly understood the nature of Ripley and gives a cool performance. Dougray Scott, who is seen as Jonathan, is perfectly cast as the picture framer dying from cancer. Ray Winstone does what he does best in his take of Reeves, a cruel man who wants to get rid of his enemies by paying other people to do the dirty thing for him. Lena Headey plays Sarah, Jonathan's wife, who is horrified when she discovers what her husband has done.

"Ripley's Game" shows a Liliana Cavani at a nice point in her career. The film has a beautiful music score by Ennio Morricone and a brilliant cinematography by Alfio Contini, who takes the film through several picturesque locations for the viewer's enjoyment.
11 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Solid Crime Movie, Thanks To Three Leads
ccthemovieman-121 June 2007
This was good; a solid crime story. It's the "Tom Ripley" of "The Talented Mr. Ripley," but now older and being played by John Malkovich instead of Matt Damon. He's also, at least to me, a totally different character so this story stands on its own. There's no tie-in to that previous film

Malkovich plays his normal role, playing the kind of character he's good at playing: the smart, sarcastic and sadistic villain with the interesting vocabulary. In this story, he blends in with the locals as somewhat of a nondescript guy but inside he's a man with no conscience who is a killer. Late in the film, he admits and brags about having no conscience.

The plot in this movie revolves around Ripley having someone else do some of the latest killings for him, an "average Joe" that no one would suspect. That role is played by Dougray Scott, a young Englishman with a wife and young son, but a man who is dying of leukemia and could use a little extra money for his family when he's gone. That seems to be the lure when the evil Ripley and his partner give him the murder sales pitch. It takes some convincing, but "Jonathan Trevanny" eventually gives in to some persuasion, shall we say. Scott's reaction after the killing is very interesting...and he gets another assignment.

Ripley's partner "Reeves" also is an intriguing guy, played by Ray Winstone who also often portrays this type of character: a vicious, profane thug. If you saw "Sexy Beast," you'll know the type of guy Winstone plays here

Anyway,without giving the story away, suffice to say this wound up a pleasant surprise: great dialog, good photography and acting, some dark humor along with good suspense and just the right amount of action and lulls. It is heavy on the profanity, so beware of that.

This is a film one doesn't hear much about and is recommended for those who enjoy modern-day, tough crime films.
27 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A great thriller
aussiebrisguy25 July 2006
I must admit I enjoyed Matt Damon and company very much in The Talented Mr.Ripley. The character of Tom Ripley is thoroughly dislikable but also intriguing. Therefore when I realised that another Ripley film had been made I was curious to enjoy the earlier experience again. I was not disappointed either. John Malkovich who I usually do not like as a performer was totally creepy and perfect as an older Ripley. Up against him was the very talented Dougray Scott as his unlikely accomplice in murder, Jonathon Trevanny. There are grisly murders galore in this film of revolting Russian mafia murderers. The ending is great. I won't give it away as it would spoil it for others. The Italian and German settings are brilliant as are the train scenes. This film is very enjoyable.
9 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews