The Game (1997) Directed by David Fincher. With Michael Douglas, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Anna Katarina and Sean Penn.
Many cite Alien 3 as David Fincher’s weakest film. And, for or all but the climax of his 1997 thriller, The Game, it is. Starring Michael Douglas and set in San Francisco (of course) the plot follows a wealthy investment banker who is gifted a bizarre birthday present in the form of a mysterious game. Now, I’m not one for dishing out spoilers, but such is the open-mouthed – “did that really just happen?” -occurrence toward the end of the final act, that I’m half-tempted to give ‘the game’ away. Of course, I won’t, but be warned, you might just feel the cold, hard shock of a slap across your face, by the end.
So why would you want to watch it? Well, it’s a David Fincher film that stars Michael Douglas, for starters. That guarantee’s a certain amount of pull. And yes, for the most part, it’s a taut, well constructed piece that builds a good degree of suspense and intrigue. Michael Douglas’ plays a guarded, interesting character. A man whose past has gotten the better of him. A cold, lonely man who appears to be drifting thorough life, albeit very comfortably, in his huge palace of a home.
We know that Fincher knows how to spin a dark twist, as brilliantly exemplified in his 1995 film, Se7en. Knowing that, we watch The Game anticipating a similar level ingenuity. He confidently sets everything up, forcing us to search ourselves as to what might be afoot. Disparate sounding piano notes further tease us, thickening the sense of a twisty riddle that we’ll have a great time trying to solve. In large chunks, it’s a 4/5 rated film. Then, shit happens.
The last 10 minutes is like squirting half-a-bottle of tomato ketchup over a piece of prime steak. Until then, it had been a dark, mysterious, involving thriller – with Michael Douglas firmly demonstrating his quality as a leading man. Then, the rug is pulled from under our feet with an ending so audacious, that it’s borderline insulting. 3/5