Are you ready to play The Game?
As we go through life there are occurrences that happen to us. The people we meet, the careers that we choose and the choices we make. Is there anything that could make life better? Well for Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) life sure has no moments. He’s estranged from his ex-wife Elizabeth (Anna Katarina) and his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) and lives a seemingly dull life as a wealthy investment banker. His birthday is coming up — he will be 48 years old which just happens to be the same age that his father committed suicide.
His brother surprises him to wish him a “happy birthday” and gives him a card to a company named CRS (Consumer Recreation Services). “They make your life fun” Conrad says. It’s a profound life experience! The curiosity gets the better of Nicholas and he ventures into the offices of CRS who explain to him that they fix whatever is missing. It’s mysterious and sort of vague. What do you get the man who has everything? Nicholas decides to bite after hearing a rather convincing sales pitch from Jim Feingold (James Rebhorn) and is given a series of psychological and physical tests to determine if he’s accepted into the program. From there the mystery only deepens. How can a company make your life fun if it’s so secret about what they do?
There are many questions that will ponder in your mind as the film continues. Nicholas goes about his life as routine until some interesting things start to happen. While I won’t reveal any spoilers, it’s sure a wild ride! If you look at The Game, it’s a mere retelling of A Christmas Carol, albeit a much darker version. A man whose life is turned upside down and is drastically changed by the end. Only in The Game there are moments that will make you think to yourself, “Is it just a game or is this for real?”
David Fincher directs this film and sets the tone for some creepy moments. The dark lighting, the piano in the soundtrack played alongside an ominous tone and the sheer suspense that grips us along the way. Howard Shore provides the film’s soundtrack which really sets the mood the same way he did for Fincher’s earlier film Se7en. Both The Game and Se7en are dark and very psychological, the only difference is that The Game doesn’t have the shock value of the latter. The slight similarity is that the film is set in a city that is filled with life but the characters that we follow are in a world where happiness isn’t the heart of the party. Michael Douglas is perfect for the role because he embodies a character that feels real and the reaction of the things that he goes through makes us feel that something sinister is going on.
The Game was a mild success at the Box Office grossing only $109 million and was a middling success when compared to Se7en. Critics were mostly positive about the film except for one crucial part, but that is for you to see for yourself. The Game is a dark thriller led by Michael Douglas in a great performance. He doesn’t overdo anything and plays his character in a way that I could see no one else in the role, it’s a memorable one. The writers (John Brancato and Michael Ferris who wrote The Net) have crafted a unique story that doesn’t have a villain that we say, “That’s the bad guy!” Instead they go with a man who seems to have everything and strips him down to nothing, but is it just a game?
Alfred Hitchcock has been regarded as “The Master of Suspense” and while that is true, David Fincher has crafted suspense films over his career that are memorable as well. One of my favorite directors, Fincher knows how to bring the suspense and keeps us glued to the screen. While The Game isn’t as bold as Se7en it’s one thriller that will keep you on your toes. As John 9:25 says, “Where once I was blind, now I can see.”
The Game is one thriller to not overlook, it’s a must see!