My rating: 4/10
After being impressed with David Fincher's dark film noir, 'Seven', I expected great things from this. What I got however, was an impressive, original idea, and an intriguing mystery all carried out with an unimpressive script and a big lack of momentum.
In 'The Game' we are presented with an uptight businessman Nicholas, (Michael Douglas) who after being given an unusual birthday present by his less than average brother (Sean Penn) becomes the player in a very extreme, real life game. As the game unfolds we see Nicholas's slow descent into the mind of a paranoid madman.
As you can see, the idea retains a great amount of originality and sounds like the perfect mixture for an intense thriller. I wish that I could say that this is what is delivered. It starts off very slow in an attempt to set us up with Nicholas's character. Although it is necessary to see Nicholas's mundane uptight lifestyle, this becomes pretty mundane to watch. Flash forward several long minutes later and the game begins. At this point, we see Nicholas receiving a key through the elaborate use of a clown outside his house as well as instructions on the rules of the game.
Once the action starts properly, the film feels very promising. However as it begins to unfold, it just becomes a bit boring and not that engaging. Whereas with 'Seven' the intrigue and chase of the film leaves you in a state of anticipation as to what is going to happen next, The Game manages to bare no such resemblance. It became fairly predictable and was frustrating how Nicholas's character kept changing. One minute his house had been broken into and although freaked out, he seemed pretty aware that this had something to do with the game. As the audience this made me aware of everything else and how anything could be part of his game - something that it seemed Nicholas had already worked out. Nicholas's however didn't seem to retain this sense of wariness even though we had already seen these snippets of his madness. This is one of the factors that I found hard to believe. His character is an investment banker, and so trust is something that he cannot afford to rely on too much in his job. However he seemed pretty quick to trust those he didn't even know. It seemed to take him far too long to get to the point where he didn't feel he could trust anyone.
I was quite impressed with the way it ended. I have to admit that I had been fooled as well. However for me, it seemed a far too elaborate scheme just to try and teach him a lesson. I mean, I think if I had been through an ordeal of being shipped off to a foreign place, thinking my whole life had been destroyed, thinking I'd shot my own brother and then being so messed up I wanted to kill myself in the same way my dad had done, that someone simply saying "It was all a game" just wouldn't really cut it. I fail to understand why this would make you relieved and suddenly absorb the insanity that had newly spouted. Fair enough, it certainly would teach you a lesson not to be so uptight, but I think that the rest of your life would be spent recovering and being in a constant state of paranoia. I just didn't find it believable at all.
So overall, although I did enjoy the actual concept and SOME of the 'thrill', I think it was executed very poorly and it seems like the writer was more concerned with 'wowing' the audience with the twist, that they lost all sight of the other details that should have been important to this film.