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The Game [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
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Successful San Francisco tycoon and control freak Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) approaches his forty-eighth birthday with some trepidation. For it was at this age that his father fell from his mansion roof and died. Nicholas receives an introduction to Consumer Recreation Services from his younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), and is informed that he is now playing 'The Game'. Nicholas soon finds himself losing control and threatened with the loss of not just his company and fortune but also his life.
It's not quite as clever as it tries to be, but The Game does a tremendous job of presenting the story of a rigid control freak trapped in circumstances that are increasingly beyond his control. Michael Douglas plays a rich, divorced, and dreadful investment banker whose 48th birthday reminds him of his father's suicide at the same age. He's locked in the cage of his own misery until his rebellious younger brother (Sean Penn) presents him with a birthday invitation to play "The Game" (described as "an experiential Book of the Month Club")--a mysterious offering from a company called Consumer Recreation Services. Before he knows the game has even begun, Douglas is caught up in a series of unexplained events designed to strip him of his tenuous security and cast him into a maelstrom of chaos. How do you play a game that hasn't any rules? That's what Douglas has to figure out, and he can't always rely on his intelligence to form logic out of what's happening to him. Seemingly cast as the fall guy in a conspiracy thriller, he encounters a waitress (Deborah Unger) who may or may not be trustworthy, and nothing can be taken at face value in a world turned upside down. Douglas is great at conveying the sheer panic of his character's dilemma, and despite some lapses in credibility and an anticlimactic ending, The Game remains a thinking person's thriller that grabs and holds your attention. Thematic resonance abounds between this and Seven and Fight Club, two of the other films by The Game 's director David Fincher. -- Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com --This text refers to the DVD edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Michael Douglas has seldom been better in a role tailor made for his talents, playing an emotionally stunted millionaire, far removed from the people around him and distant to the point of total social disconnection. His brother (Sean Penn) gives him an unusual birthday gift; a game that is supposed to make his life more `fun' but eventually turns into a waking nightmare. The ingenious screenplay engineers its twists with such breathless intelligence and wit that upon the first viewing it plays as a thriller. The next time around the film reveals itself as a character study of the most gripping kind.
Douglas' performance is remarkable and arguably his finest. His whole job in this movie is to make the transition from uptight and repressed investment banker to an unhinged and suicidal shell of a man, palpable. In the beginning he is almost too distant to be really empathetic, his steely demeanour giving us nothing to really like about the man. Plus he's rich, and who likes to feel sorry for a millionaire? His performance bridges the implausibility of plot logic so that his final 'test' at the climax comes from an emotionally honest place and has considerable impact (no pun intended) and resonance. The support given to him is also incredibly strong, having an on-form Sean Penn in his corner, ably backed by the alluring Deborah Kara Unger and a fantastic James Rebhorn.
David Fincher has been lauded over the years for his work on "Seven," and "Fight Club," yet this is by far his most elegant piece of work.Read more ›
Four stars, but it is just too cold, even more than Fincher usually is.
And I don't mean that characters and story are cold in itself, but the kind of (brilliant) engagement this film has on viewers, is merely related to the plot and not to what characters really feel. You hardly get all the drama in the life of Douglas' character, if not because he is a truly good actor and, even without a warm and emotional film direction, he personally give his character an added value and appeal. The others are instead just puppets. All the rest (the elegant direction, editing and photography, the evocative opening credits, the surreal scenes and the overall unpredictability of the plot) perfectly work as usual in a Fincher's film. BUt it is all too planned and scripted, while sometimes films must forget about how making the plot go on and focus a little more on what makes characters live and become real.
Which is what makes all his filmography always very interesting, well done, entertaining, but not always so engaging (it is in films like Seven, Social Network and Zodiac, where actors really make the difference).
Even his last great film (Gone Girl) presents the same kind of approach: too much plot, really controlled and balanced direction, but not big interest in the characters, if not in the mutual dynamics, which are, anyway, more related to the unfolding of the story than on the true revelation of their personality. They all seem to be deep and complex, but they are just "acted and scripted characters".
It is not a problem in a film like that, but he can become a little problem in more ambitious ones.
The movie is organized and shot impeccably; the plot is imaginative and complicated as well as entertaining, pulling you immediately in. Sometimes the story drags on and next move seems visible, but this is not a big deal. The acting of Douglas, Penn, Unger and and even minor roles is satisfying.
Nicholas Van Orton, a workaholic investment banker, is such a hotshot that Michael Douglas was born to play: powerful, wealthy & brainy as well as cocky, mighty & haughty. Initially cool and reserved, then gradually less and less sure of himself, more and more perplexed when the things go awry. What a perfect character for Douglas as an actor...
Overwhelmed by his father's suicide and his divorce, he built a psychological & emotional cocoon around himself. But his life began changing entirely when he became enmeshed in an outstandingly elaborate real-life game, given as a birthday present by his brother Conrad. The game, arranged by a sinister outfit called CRS, is a bizzare one: no defined rules & no specified beginning or end. The aim of the game is to give Van Orton what he's lacking in real life. Actually, he starts out DEAD but the game brings something in him to life. After multitudes of twists, turns and near-death experiences arranged by CRS agents and allies, the cocoon is shattered and he turns into what he was made to be: a human being.
This is a film that will make you wish that you could play such a game in real life...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Criterion version bluray is a superlative transfer with lots of extras.
Essential purchase for me.
Another movie that dares to think outside the box. It could have decended into utter rubbish but instead left me feeling thoughtful and entertained. Well worth Six stars. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer