The Game (1997) Poster

(1997)

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10/10
A Classic Thriller
Lucabrasisleeps12 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I have to say I didn't expect this. I didn't have great expectations when I saw this. Especially considering the cold reception given to it by critics and audiences alike. But it is one of the most original Hollywood thrillers ever.

The story is about an investment banker named Nicholas Van Orton(Michael Douglas in one of his best roles) who is greedy and self centred and who lives alone in his huge mansion. His brother(Sean Penn) gives him a card telling him to contact the company and it is his birthday present to him. What follows is absolute edge of the seat stuff and it shows David fincher at a time when he made some of the finest movies ever seen in Hollywood. In the midst of all this, he meets a waitress named Christine. Revealing more might spoil the movie for you as it is a fun roller-coaster ride with many twists and turns.

What impressed me about this movie was the atmosphere throughout the movie. It is classic David fincher with the dark tone and great background music. The camera work is excellent especially in the scene where his father falls down to his death. These scenes also show another side to Nicholas van orton and indicate why he became the way he is. He starts out as a one dimensional guy but then when faced with crisis he shows so many sides. I feel the game is more a character study because it shows the myriad changes in his behaviour throughout the movie. Rather than depending on gimmicky twists and quick editing(which is the popular way of making movies today), The Game depends solely on atmosphere and the strength of its performances. Deborah Kara Unger gives a great performance as a character with shades of grey. She is the perfect person for this character with her mysterious look. Sean penn as usual gives a great performance but unfortunately he doesn't have much screen time.

Another aspect of the movie is the dark humor. Michael Douglas gives certain comments with a deadpan delivery that makes it even more humorous. In many ways the Game can be described as a satire on society and how people forget the most important things in life when pursuing success. It is interesting how facing a crisis brings out the most basic emotions in people and how it changes people is the basic theme of this movie. We experience the same emotions as Nicholas and thus it becomes a ride where we don't know the truth till the last moment.

I had tears in my eyes at the end and the credit should go to the direction and the music. The slow motion sequence at the end is also well done and this has got to be one of the best endings of all time.

10/10
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9/10
An intelligent tale from start to finish.
The Record Guy5 March 2001
Let me just tell you that, as a middle aged film buff, I have seen my share of flicks, good and bad. Very few rate as high as "The Game" in entertainment value. "The Game" is most definitely one of the "most fun" movies to hit the silver screen in a long time. Filled with plot twists and turns, this film takes the movie-goer on a psychological roller coaster ride from the tile screens to the final credit roll.

"The Game" is truly an intelligent tale, sort of a brain teaser that you get to watch and listen to, with a time limit. You have just 128 minutes to solve this, and chances are, like me, you'll be hanging on the solution to this puzzle until the very end.

The script was well written by a writer who clearly understands the needs of an adult audience. Yes, we like our fun but we like to exercise our brains once in a while also. And let there be no mistake about the great performances offered here by Michael Douglas and his co-stars. I was engrossed by all and couldn't take my eyes of the screen.

There is plenty for everybody here. Fun for all. A big winner in my book and definitely on my list of all time favorites. Get it and enjoy the ride!
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Michael Douglas at his very best
scoobydoo2000ms25 April 2000
"The Game" took me on one psychological thrill ride after another loaded with twists and turns scene after scene.

Michael Douglas pulled off his best performance as Nicholas Van Orton a man who is approaching his birthday. Upon which he receives an invitation to play a game given to him by his brother Conrad played by Sean Penn. Nicholas reluctantly agrees and soon finds out that the game is more than he bargained for.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film because I never knew who was trustworthy or what was going to happen next, this truly was one film that must be seen by those who enjoy never knowing for sure how a movie will turn out.

"The Game" is all Michael Douglas and how well he pulls off his role of being the innocent who happens to be in the middle of a game he can't control. However, a really good movie can not be pulled off by one actor, a whole lot of credit should go to Sean Penn and Deborah Kara Unger for their convincing portrayals in this film.
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9/10
Tight, twisted and tense - one of the most interesting thrillers of the '90s
MaxBorg8920 May 2007
Having conquered the critics (and the box-office) with Se7en, David Fincher could have "sold out" and kept delivering more of the same. Fortunately, he was wise enough to try different paths, and although all his movies can be classified as thrillers there's no real similarity between them, except maybe a common theme of alienation and solitude.

In Fincher's third film, The Game, that solitude is physically incarnated by Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a wealthy businessman who is so obsessed with his job he has forgotten everything about the simple joys of life. The only person who still stays in touch with him is his younger brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who is Nicholas' polar opposite in terms of attitude. One night, when they're out to celebrate the elder brother's birthday, Conrad mentions a "game" that changed his life and suggests Nicholas participate too, as it would be "fun". Though initially hesitant, the latter eventually gives in to curiosity and decides to give it a shot. Within a few hours, however, he will regret it: the "game" is actually some sort of conspiracy involving everyone in town. With his assets frozen, his apartment no longer a safe place and no one left to trust, Nicholas must figure out how to solve the problem before it's too late - for him or someone else...

As usual, Fincher makes sure the film works on a technical level, cleverly using camera angles, lighting (shades of red and brown being the dominant color) and editing to keep the suspense alive and the atmosphere conveniently murky. It is mainly this masterful handling of film-making tools that keeps the viewer from questioning the logic of the nonetheless brilliant screenplay, some of the twists giving the impression of a dystopic set-up rather than a plausible situation (and yet the script is supposedly based on a real event). Two other elements contribute to elevating The Game above the average mystery tale: a truly unpredictable, phenomenal ending, in pure Fincher tradition (well, at least until he made Panic Room), and the great work by the leading men, Douglas' paranoid desperation slyly erasing all hints of typecasting (after all, this is not the first time he has played someone who is being manipulated; in fact, one scene explicitly spoofs one of those previous movies) and Penn's smug anarchy anticipating director's masterpiece, Fight Club, and its central character, Tyler Durden (without a doubt Brad Pitt's best role to date).

In short, those looking for a "different" cinematic experience should give The Game a try: it might come off as overly cold or contrived at first, but like all of Fincher's movies it deserves a re-evaluation (Fight Club wasn't exactly a hit when originally released) and stands the test of time as one of the most original, smartest films of the '90s.
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8/10
Glad he's not my Brother
mjw23057 March 2004
Warning: Spoilers
What an amazing thriller, it's totally original, i've never seen anything like it before. The casting of Michael Douglas and Sean Penn was inspired and the story is compelling to say the least.

Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) receives a strange birthday gift from his brother Conrad (Penn) A game, that's the gift, a game that plunges him into a living nightmare; a conspiracy (or so it appears) Life or death, true or false; The Game poses many questions and is steeped in mystery and tension from the moment it begins.

All the questions do get answered by the end, and the surprise ending caps off this thriller excellently.

Terrific entertainment 8/10
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10/10
As gripping as it gets.
Benzzo2 August 1998
Whether you love it or hate it, The Game definitely will not bore you. By far the most engrossing movie I've ever watched. I saw this on the big screen and throughout most of this masterpiece I kept asking myself, "where is this movie going?" For 128 spirited minutes The Game takes your mind and twists it ruthlessly, contorting it in any way it so desires. Michael Douglas is the perfect actor for this role, he played it flawlessly. I love this movie, it's definitely one of my personal favorites.
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7/10
Worth Watching - But Only Once
Theo Robertson5 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
THE GAME is the type of movie that was very popular at the turn of the century - One that has a great twist in the tail . Unfortunately when the great twist is revealed the film comes crashing down . The producers may claim that that THE GAME is more of a journey than a destination whereby the audience are transported somewhere but the more you think about the plot at the end of the line the more the audience will complain that the journey was a little too contrived to be worth going back on the same route

!!!! SPOILERS !!!! The premise involves " what do you get for the man who has everything " , Nicholas Van Orton has everything we wants in a material world but it's come at a price where he's a lonely middle aged man and you're instantly reminded of Michael Douglas Oscar winning role in WALL STREET as Gordon Gekko . His brother Conrad buys him a birthday gift from Consumer Recreation Services and then all sorts of strange and dangerous things start happening

The problem with the scenario is that when the ending is revealed your suspension of disbelief may not have been suspended enough . The comments pages for this film is full of people pointing out things like " What if Nicholas got mugged in Mexico, or if he jumped off a different part of the building or if he did or didn't contact such and such a person ? he wouldn't have arrived at the ending " and they're right . In fact if you stop to think about it it also means that every single previous customer who used CRS must had a successful time other wise the customer would have sued the company in a multi million pound court case . Are you trying to say all that excitement wouldn't have caused a previous customer to have a heart attack or be seriously injured , perhaps even killed ? Why do you think no one in real life has come up with something like CRS in real life ? That's because of the real life possibility of litigation

I do confess that I'm taking things a little too serious and people will point out that it's only a film and they're right . For most of the running time I found THE GAME rather compelling entertainment similar to TOTAL RECALL without the high body count and sci-fi elements and though everything disintegrates with the revelation I do recommend THE GAME as entertainment mixed in with a redemption plot
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7/10
Impressive movie
geiri5 February 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Nicholas Van Orton, a successful businessman lives a good life until an unexpected birthday gift from his brother destroys it all. Nicholas has been enrolled in a game - "a profound life experience" that begins quietly but soon erupts in a rush of devastating events. Van Orton has to win this deadly game or lose control of everything in his life. And this time money and power are meaningless. This is a suspense/thriller, that does manage to hold one's attention. The film stars Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. Deborah Kara Unger (David Cronenberg's "Crash") turns in a fine supporting roll as well. Davd Fincher, director of Seven and Aliens 3, continues to set high standards for motion picture making. This lastest entree of Fincher's does not lose a beat in delivering the maximum impact of the story. This movie will get into your head. It will keep you guessing the whole time. If you don't give this movie a chance you'll never know what you missed.
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8/10
....and when it was all over, I was blown away
Agent1018 April 2002
Very few films have captured my attention the way The Game did. Every turn, every corner seemed to have some hint of intrigue and deception. This film would be the life's work for any major film maker, but then again, this David Fincher were talking about.

Years from now, when Fincher is honored with his lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards, his true fans will always remember this film. It put a whole new twist on the idea of "plot-twist." One of the few films me and my father both liked (we never agree on any film).
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8/10
The Game is ON.
redarea11 September 2011
I was hungry like anything when I started watching this movie and that was the only time I felt hungry. 2 hours and 3 minutes passed like you are playing your favorite GAME and could not concentrate anything else. If you think Micheal Douglas is an over rated actor then this movie is enough to prove you wrong. Sean Penn does full justice to his cameo. This is not a movie that leaves you with puzzles after watching unlike many mystery thrillers, instead it solves itself and relaxes your muscles after a rough ride. This is a movie with an engrossing script, excellent acting and flawless direction. If you have not watched this movie yet then PLAY it. You wont regret it all. Entertainment at its best. Now I can have my snacks and you go watch it. 8/10
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9/10
Play to the End of Your Life
Bogmeister10 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Game weaves its way into and around your brain, challenging you to figure out the puzzle. It's a rather unique film experience because of that no-holds-barred challenge - it challenges you to figure out what's coming next, in a direct way not many other films attempt. It's a thinking person's film; whether it's actually intelligent or not probably depends on the individual, but I'd like to think it's pretty smart. Also pretty smart is the character played by Michael Douglas - business smarts, that is. Douglas was near the end of a roll playing businessmen, began in Wall Street(87). He becomes involved with an odd company, CRS, introduced to him by his younger brother (Sean Penn in a small role). What begins as amusing distraction for his orderly world soon turns sinister.

The film points out that people, especially smarter people whom you'd think don't need amusement, all need some kind of distraction. Isn't that what we're all doing essentially during our lifetimes - finding different means of distraction before the inevitable end? And aren't those distractions just a means to avoid thinking about that end? Douglas may be closer to that end than he thinks here. As the toying escalates and becomes dangerous, the viewer may think this has the makings of a slick, if standard, thriller, but that's not the case, to everyone's credit. You reach a point, however, when certain incidents demand suspension of disbelief, no matter how much you trust the filmmakers. How far can a man fall, for example, before you start to think there's a limit of how much I can buy into here? How much can be allowed, how much power can you allow for the puppeteers before a line is crossed? It crosses that line with me towards the end but reaching that point was an interesting experience, something I can say about too few films.

This was Fincher's middle film in his personal great trilogy, caught between "Se7en" and "Fight Club." If there's one other minor quibble I might voice, it's that his stylistic flourishes are missing in this one - it's comparatively straightforward, even with the Super-8 type flashbacks, and I would have to rate this a smidgen below the other two. However, if I had to pick one to watch over and over, it would be The Game.
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10/10
Just when you got the plot, it turns upon you
Aeth30 July 2001
This has to be one of the more interesting psychological thrillers made recently. Just when you think you got ahold of the plot it changes! Playing with "the implicit viewer" this movie has a tendency to constantly surprise and redefine itself in relation to the "expectancy horizon". What a wonderful positive redefinition of "Seven", culminating in a refinement of the human nature and at the same time leaving the viewer with a subtle taste of the "rosicrucian initiation" in the mouth.

Definitly worth a view!
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10/10
My favorite movie of all times and not for the obvious reasons.
kbright29 January 2009
I first saw this on VHS tape when it first came out. It was not in theaters long enough for word of mouth to drive a wave of references. This was the only movie I ever had to immediately rewind, gather the family and watch it again that night. Do not watch on TV where it is has been cut for time. What I liked about this film is that every frame and every scene was important to the story. There are no puppy in the window filler shots. I applaud the writing and the directing for such an intricate weaving of "The Game" concept. Not a film for those with no patience or interest in covert operations. I now enjoy watching others watch this film as they start to recognize things and try to figure out what is going on, only to be wrong several times. I see something new every time I watch it. Brilliant concept and execution of the concept on film.
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8/10
An extremely underrated movie
Confidante7728 January 2007
After the great success, both with critics and with the public, of "Seven", Director David Fincher turned to this film. It has often been said that this movie was one he'd wanted to make for a long time and upon viewing you can really see his belief in both characters and the story- overall an excellently directed movie.

Although several people argued that "Seven" was gory, in my opinion it wasn't, for example, there is a total lack of blood in the Lust scene, something which I particularly admired- the fact that a director could make a chilling and shocking movie without resorting to piling tons of blood onto the screen. Fincher continues this streak in "The Game" by drawing the tension and shocks of the film by using psychological terror.

Unfortunately, the movie could not parallel the success of "seven" upon its release and also received mixed critical reviews, however since then it has become somewhat of a cult movie with far more success on DVD than in the box office.

Perhaps most notable about the film is the fact that (apparently) Fincher himself often seems to direct his actors in a detached way, the way one might move around chess pieces in a game. Whether this is 100% true or not his direction, the acting and just about everything else is superb.
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8/10
totally implausible, but who cares
hoobama7 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I was looking over my shoulder and racking my brain throughout this movie trying to figure out how the game always managed to stay one step ahead of Michael Douglas's character. Okay, so it asks you to accept some pretty wild premises and some fairly insane leaps of logic. Okay, so after you think about it, the suspense really has no sensible roots. The bottom line is that this movie is fun to watch.

There's really no way to so comprehensively map a person's every possible reaction that you could keep constantly abreast of him/her. I'm also not sure how sane the idea of plunging a taxi cab into water is, whether there's a supposed diver on the scene or not. And shipping the guy to Mexico in a box? Come on. I mean, at some point, this guy is going to come up with something the game-writers can't foresee. So the game itself, I just don't believe could work.

But the movie does. The viewer is brought into the game at the same speed as Nick Van Orton (Douglas), so the mystery works on two levels. It raises a number of questions, and although it doesn't satisfactorily answer them all (or even most of them), it still sends chills up your spine. What would you do if they seized your bank accounts, stole your identity, chased you, drugged you, and shipped you a thousand miles away in a coffin-sized box? It's creepy to think about it, even with your brain constantly untangling the overbearing contrivance that put it on screen in the first place.

The truth is that I was totally skeptical of the game all the way through and even after I saw the movie, but I just don't care. I liked watching it. I was entertained. And isn't that what the movies are all about?
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8/10
Full of surprises
ConnorMonteith12 April 2011
"The Game" is about a wealthy investment banker, called Nicholas Van Orton, who is given a mysterious birthday present by his brother Conrad. When he participates in this game, unusual events happen that interfere with his daily routine, endangering his life. The closer he gets to figuring out the master behind the game, the more dangerous the events get, making him become closer to death. He must risk everything he has to discover the deadly secret.

The director, David Fincher, creates this film in a great way. The earlier success of his previous film "Seven" gave the producers of "The Game" an opportunity to acquire a higher profit. The film was eventually ranked #44 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.

This thriller successfully holds suspense the whole way through. The incidents displayed throughout the film are shown in a sequence that continually makes us wonder what is happening, and the rapid change in events keeps us watching. There is a wide range of occurrences happening throughout the movie, which only make sense at the end of the story, so once we have seen a few of the experiences that Nicholas must go through, we are dragged into the film, continually wondering who is good, who is bad, and how the events all link together.

I recommend this film to anyone who likes mystery story's, thrills and suspense. It is fantastically structured, and it is a must see for anyone who likes films in this genre.

8/10 - "The Game" is full of surprises and should not be missed!
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6/10
Who Dealt This Mess?
rmax3048232 November 2003
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS.

I think it was Chuang Dz who is supposed to have asked: "Last night I dreamed I was a butterfly. Today, am I a butterfly dreaming I am a man?"

The question, like this movie and many others before it, deals with the problem of distinguishing what is real from what is illusory. An old philosophical question. But this movie does a pretty good job of exploring the issue.

The plot, basically is this. Sean Penn enrolls his brother Michael Douglas in something called "the game." Douglas enrolls in this program, a birthday present, without having any idea of what it's all about. Douglas is an extremely wealthy control freak who lives a life encased in ice. He's brutal to subordinates, frosty to friends, and lives alone and likes it. Then things begin to go wrong. First little things. His pen leaks and stains his shirt at the airport. A waitress spills wine all over him at his favorite restaurant. A man seems to drop dead in front of him. Then things spin wildly out of control. People shoot at him. His bank accounts are emptied by the people running the game. A wild taxi ride ends up with him trapped in the car at the bottom of San Francisco Bay. He's drugged by someone he trusts and wakes up dressed in rags, his nose bloodied, with no ID and no money, in a rubbish-strewn Mexican graveyard. This has happened to me once or twice and I can tell you -- it's discomfiting.

It's like an episode from The Twilight Zone or John Fowles' novel "The Magus". Or, citing cinematic history, like the pod people or Carpenter's "The Thing" or Steve Railsback in "The Stuntman." Who belongs to the conspiracy and who doesn't. Or does ANYBODY not belong? And, as a birthday present, this "game" is like one of those really ugly ties that somebody gives you, that you know you'll never wear, but you can't take it back either.

Douglas gives a surprisingly good performance. He has greater range than I'd previously given him credit for. He shows the same disdain for others that he did as Gordon Gekko but he brings a fragility to the character as well. When he sees mouth-to-mouth resuscitation being given to someone he displays what could easily pass for real disgust. And when he cuts his hand on a sliver of glass, he grimaces with pain while he rinses it and wraps it in a handkerchief, the way the adventurer of "Romancing the Stone" would never do. And there is none of the comfortable matter-of-fact laid back quality he showed as a doctor and boy friend in "Coma." The other performers are competent but Douglas has the only role that stands out.

Interesting use of location shooting too. San Francisco doesn't look like an urban theme park here. Almost all the scenes take place at night on depopulated streets and they make San Francisco look about as ugly as it's possible to make the city look. The dialog doesn't leap out at you but it does have its quiet wit, which I'm not sure is always appropriate. Douglas loses a shoe to an attack dog. "There goes a thousand dollars," he remarks to his companion. "Your shoes cost a thousand dollars?" she asks. "That one did."

At the movie's end, just when you think the game is over, there's yet another twist coming, the last one leading Douglas to suicide by jumping off the roof of a high-rise hotel, only to land safely on an air bag judiciously placed below in what looks like the lounge of the Sheraton Palace. The movie is entirely implausible. As explained at the end, there isn't a believable moment in it. But it has the kind of illogic that a real nightmare has. The viewer may realize afterward that what has happened is impossible but Douglas has no way of finding that out. Everything seems askew to him as it does to us while we watch. Even Daniel Schorr on CNN has an interactive exchange with him. "This is impossible," says Douglas. "That's right," replies Schorr. "It's impossible. You're having a conversation with your TV set." If you can't trust Daniel Schorr something is seriously screwed up.

Alas, the denouement does flunk the believability test, and badly. Douglas has been put through hell, and it all turns out for the best -- all those dangerous pranks, the living nightmare, the humiliation, the druggings, the action movie clichés, all have made him "a better man." He's grateful. Whereas a lot of fairly normal people, myself included, would try to track down every soul involved in this scam and beat the living crap out of them. I'd make a particular point of celebrating my brother Sean Penn's next birthday by crowning him with a crowbar -- a real one.
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1/10
Terrible movie.
alm_fawaz27 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
The acting was very well delivered by Michael Douglas, the directing and storyline were also very interesting.

But the ending is definitely the worst one i have ever seen in my life.

If someone made me slowly go crazy, think i was being stalked, had me think i was being shot at, made me think i was robbed of $600,000,000, made me think i was drugged and sent to Mexico, made me think i killed my brother, AND made me attempt to commit suicide,i would not thank them, i would literally kill them.

I really think this movie is the most disappointing one, considering how good the plot was, but how terrible the ending was. I really have nothing else to say.
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8/10
A movie to watch, not analyse
Terry-30318 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Hold your hats and get taken for the ride of your life.

What do you give a man who has everything that money can buy. Well if he's your brother and money is no object, you give him the one thing he can't purchase. Another chance at life.

***** Contains Spoiler ********

Contrary to other reviewers, I could understand perfectly why Nicholas reacted as he did at the end. Probably like me, he was busy holding back the tears when he realised that his brother was alive. The outcome of the game, in the end, is based on the strength of a brothers love. It's clear that Nicholas would do anything for Conrad, and that's why he plays the stupid game in the beginning. For once I was glad for a happy ending, and if it didn't make sense, so what, who cares. I was just glad for the entertaining diversion and a thrilling ride.
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8/10
Well constructed, fun ride
mformoviesandmore29 September 2018
An oldie but a goodie.

I hadn't seen this movie for a good many years. Made back when Douglas was in his acting prime.

It moves at a steady pace with good flow. The surprises are plentiful given the basic premise.

Considering the lack of CGI and the effort in the script I wonder if we will see anything of its type come out of studios in more modern times?

Let's hope to see a movie of similar calibre some time soon.
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8/10
It had me fooled.
simonk190510 November 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Possible Spoilers ahead

The fact that this film had me fooled right to the end is what made me give it 8 out of 10. I saw this after I had seen Se7en and the fact that Fincher had direct Se7en the most staid and plodding film I have seen in a long time and the awful Alien3. I was going to find it hard to make it through this one. Even though I found Fight Club fantastic Alien3 takes a lot of making up for.

After a slow start it gripped my up until the fantastic ending. When I just like Van Orten believed it was all real. Truly great workmanship and acting. Sean Penn is great and Douglas finally moves out of his fathers shadow for me and makes the film great.

To those who say "It would never happen in real life" or "You could never predict what he would do". I say. IT'S A FILM.



IT'S A FILM.

The whole idea of this film is to make you suspend your disbelief for 2 hours. and get you to see how someone might react if their every move was just part of some elaborate game that eventually has you believing it is real. As for those who say "I would have killed them all at the end" answer me this. If you have a brother (I have three), if you believed you killed him only to find out he is still alive would you instantly want to send him back to the grave.... I think not.

Great film. Suspend your disbelief for a while after all isn't that what the movies are about.
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7/10
Twists upon twists, amazing filming, stunning acting, and a preposterous end
secondtake8 December 2011
The Game (1997)

The steely intensity of Michael Douglas comes to play once again here in a role where that determination keeps getting waylaid by the mixed-up birthday present he's been handed, somewhat against his will.

Or against his better judgement, at first, because he does sign off on playing "The Game," which is an experience with a bow. That is, without any good clues about who the players are or why it's quite happening, except that his birthday has come and gone, events begin to happen around him that are inexplicable. And that he can't ignore.

Intensity rules. Douglas, playing the obscenely wealthy Nicholas Van Orton, gets led further and further into the madness and crime and murder of this huge huge charade. Or so it seems.

In a manner the director, David Fincher, is cozy with, reality bends but psychology seems to be solid. That is, you are secure, somehow, in the main actor's head as the world distorts. The main example is of course "The Fight Club," the distortions are almost literal in the more ordinary "Panic Room," and the world is somewhat friendlier in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Yes, these are all Fincher films (as is the brand new American version "Dragon Tattoo" flick and the riveting "Se7en").

The production and the shooting and editing in particular are all first rate, classic Fincher. Douglas plays his part with conviction and you end up not quite sympathizing with him (he's a spoiled jerk even as his world evaporates) but you certainly are in his shoes, wondering what is going on. It's crazy and exciting and certainly baffling for a viewer--which is part of the game, actually. The viewer is another layer in the layers of perceivable reality.

And then it just goes too far. In a way, the film is preposterous from the start, but yet you go along with the idea because very rich people have very unusual lives, and maybe this kind of mind-trip birthday present with lots of people participating could happen. Money moves mountains. But when things get almost comically absurd, when the twists of identity and loyalty keep happening, you want to just say, walk away. Get a grip. Refuse to play, or maybe (at least) refuse to believe things like this are possible.

This is where Michael Douglas is perfect, and maybe does what few actors could pull off. Because as it gets insane, his character toughs it out. He's the type to take a challenge, to get extreme, to be risky, to protect his self-interests without surrender.

In some ways it's a great movie, so watch it as if it'll never let you go. And when it's just too much, be glad you went along for as long as you did. And enjoy the rest of the show for its theatrics. It remains really well made all through.
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6/10
Hitchcock Would Be Proud--If it Didn't Have So Many Darn Plot Holes...
MovieAddict201611 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Conspiracies. Films tend to be made about conspiracies and mysteries. Everyone has conspiracy theories that they put in movies ("JFK," "Conspiracy Theory"). "The Game" is a different kind of conspiracy. It is about an entire organization holding something against one man. Only a few people know about this organization and what it does in the movie, it seems. But if only a handful of people know about the organization, how could it possibly get booming business? That's one of the many, many plot holes that "The Game" seems to have. It just has too many plot holes to save itself. It has a pretty good plot, good acting, good directing...even a good script...but the plot holes in the script cause the problems.

Michael Douglas plays a rich businessman, whose birthday is coming up soon. Sean Penn, his younger brother, tells Douglas that he (Penn) has bought a present for Douglas called "The Game." Douglas goes to the location of The Game Headquarters (it has a name but I can't remember right now), and there he finds out that The Game Headquarters must test Douglas' health before they activate it (The Game). They ask him questions, do health tests...all of this going to use later...and then Douglas goes to dinner. At dinner, one thing leads to another and pretty soon things start happening. A hysterical Penn tells Douglas that he didn't have enough money to pay for The Game, and now The Game is coming after him. So now Douglas is caught up in this conspiracy which he may never get out of alive. Because now they're coming after him. Blackmail is only the beginning of what they'll do to Douglas.

First of all, "The Game" has a nice setup. I really enjoyed the beginning. It holds a great sense of suspense, and seems to be filmed effectively, in a very suspenseful way. It has all the markings of a Hitchcockian thriller. Unfortunately, Hitchcock would have ironed out the plot holes before he filmed the movie, because despite being a suspenseful film, the plot holes are unbearable, kind of negating all the suspense and belief in the film.

SPOILERS

First of all, how does The Game know that Douglas is going to do everything he does? They're betting an awful lot that he will jump off the building at JUST the right spot to crash through JUST the right glass (if you've seen the film you'll know what I mean). I can't exactly go into the entire film--it would spoil the entire thing--but the plot holes in the movie are just too obvious. They are literally betting on every step Douglas will take, and while they have people to help him make decisions along the way, there are times that he is by himself...how do they know, in a moment of despair, he will not try to put a gun to his head?

At the end (major spoiler ahead), Douglas stands on the edge of a skyscraper with a gun. They make it look as though Douglas has just shot his brother (by accident). Douglas, on the verge of a mental breakdown, walks to the edge of the skyscraper and jumps. Here are two things.

1. How did they know Douglas wouldn't just lift the gun to his head and blow it off? Why jump off the building? Yeah, I know, that's what his father did and therefore Douglas would do the same--but what if he hadn't? If I were Douglas' character, just because my father jumps off a building doesn't mean that that would be my decision of effective suicide.

2. What if Douglas had jumped off the wrong point of the building? What if he all of a sudden, before anyone could do anything, he decided to run off the other end of the building? And even if he jumped off the building at the right point, what if a) the wind (there could be some strong gusts from that high up) blew him away from his destination, and b) from that speed, even fake glass would cut him up IF he reached his destination.

That's one of the things that got me, but really, the whole sake of the film lies on what Douglas will do. What if Douglas shot himself early on? What if the shock of thinking he killed his brother gave him a heart attack? What if he didn't get out of the underwater taxi and drowned? What if? If I were The Game, I wouldn't bet that much on a suicidal man.
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10/10
Fincher's under appreciated gem.
whucal18 December 2014
I don't tend to write reviews on IMDb, but saw this gem and was compelled to do so simply due to the fact it isn't mentioned AT ALL, by anyone. It's one of Fincher's best films and deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Fight Club, Se7en etc etc.

It starts by slowly showing us the world of Nicholas (Michael Douglas) and how he's alone on his 48th birthday. He receives and odd gift off of his brother which he then decides to follow up on. What follows then is sheer cinematic brilliance. It's dark, unpredictable and unrelenting. It got to a point where any single character couldn't be trusted, and it made it all the more gripping. Seeing the protagonist descend slowly into desperation made us feel empathy for him. There's not much to say other than it's a typical Fincher film. Including his long tracks, his persistent use of the tripod, and I think it really compliments the story and builds up this sense of unease.

I just needed to express my gratitude for everyone who worked on this film and obviously David Fincher himself. It's so underrated and should be classed as one of his best films - without a shadow of a doubt.

Enjoy. You won't want it to end.
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9/10
I was surprised how much I enjoyed this one.
MartinHafer6 November 2018
Sean Penn is not the most popular celebrity and has created a few enemies over the years. However, this does not make his performance nor the film "The Game" something to avoid...and considering I am no fan of him as a person, the fact I loved the movie so much says a lot. THE GAME is exceptional...and you'd be doing yourself a favor by watching it. THE GAME is one heck of a great film, as I give it a well-deserved score of 9 because it's so well written and entertaining. It is one of the most exciting and riveting films of recent memory. You've got to see this film! I'll say no more because I don't want to spoil it.
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