THE GAME (Criterion, 1997) D: David Fincher, w/ Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN Rating: NNN
The same carefully wrought visuals and themes of obsession and loss of control that mark director David Fincher's other work, notably Seven and Zodiac, are all over The Game, adding tension and depth to this tangled, paranoid thriller.
Wealthy, mean-spirited investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) accepts an odd birthday present from his ne'er do well brother Conrad (Sean Penn) - a personalized adventure. Small incidents turn to disturbing, then dangerous ones, and Nicholas is on the run with only a little help from a reluctant waitress (Deborah Kara Unger). Things get trickier as they go along.
Douglas makes Nicholas every bit the arrogant jerk he made of Gordon Gekko in Wall Street, but not at all the same guy.
Nicholas is lonely, withdrawn, obsessed with his father's suicide and displays occasional flashes of humour. This makes him a little sympathetic, but not enough to ruin our pleasure in watching an overprivileged swine yanked out of his comfort zone and brought down.
On the commentary, Douglas brings thoughtful, detailed insights to his work on The Game and acting in general. Fincher does likewise and draws interesting parallels between the situation of the viewer and the hero.
EXTRAS Commentary, on-set footage, storyboard-to-film comparisons, alternate ending, print essay. English audio and subtitles.