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The Game
1997 - R - 128 Mins.
Director: David Fincher
Producer: Cean Chaffin
Written By: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris
Starring: Michael Douglas, Seann Penn, Deborah Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat
Review by: John Ulmer

Don't Say a Word about The Game, even if it is your most Basic Instinct!
Everyone likes a good conspiracy. They're usually better when they make sense.

Films tend to be made about conspiracies and mysteries a lot. Everyone has conspiracy theories that they put in movies--particularly Oliver Stone.

"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 visits the headquarters of this game, 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.


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 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.
Movie Guru Rating
Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not. Average but solid.  Fans of this genre will probably enjoy it.  Others may not.
  3 out of 5 stars

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