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The Game

The Game (1997)

tomatometer

71

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 52
Fresh: 37 | Rotten: 15

The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.

54

Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 6

The ending could use a little work but this is otherwise another sterling example of David Fincher's iron grip on atmosphere and storytelling.

audience

85

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 139,245

My Rating

Movie Info

Director David Fincher followed the success of his dark and atmospheric crime thriller Seven (1995) with another exercise in stylish film noir, this time lifting the pallid atmosphere a notch to indulge in a fast-paced trip through the cinematic funhouse. Michael Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a Scrooge-like San Francisco investment banker following in his father's Scrooge-like footsteps. On Nicholas's 48th birthday (the age at which his father committed suicide), his younger, free-spirited

R,

Mystery & Suspense

John Brancato, Michael Ferris

Jun 6, 2000

Universal Pictures

Watch It Now

Cast

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All Critics (52) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (37) | Rotten (15) | DVD (19)

This 1997 thriller is fairly entertaining nonsense if all you're looking for is 128 minutes of diversion. But if you'd like something more from David Fincher, the director of Seven, don't get your hopes up.

October 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Regardless of how far one chooses to buy into The Game -- and the ending ambiguously suggests that it could go on and on -- there is no doubt as to Fincher's staggering expertise as a director and his almost clinical sense of precision.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film's 'message' about complacency transformed by chaos and uncertainty is hackneyed...

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The picture provides Douglas with one of his best roles. If he doesn't quite reach the bizarre heights he achieved in Falling Down, The Game makes its own demands.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

As it's unspooling on screen, the film is hugely entertaining, but there are several significant plot holes that grow wider the more closely they're investigated.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Fincher is still working on the assumption that he has better things to do than entertain an audience. Which would be fine if he weren't drawn to such schlocky material.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Salon.com
Salon.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[N]ifty filmic style and crackpot sensibility.

October 18, 2012 Full Review Source: Film International
Film International

Well-written, expertly paced, and undeniably riveting, The Game is perhaps most impressive in the way it strips down the Nicholas Van Orton character. The whole process is very layered and each layer breaks down Nicholas even more than the last.

October 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Examiner.com
Examiner.com

This is one of those movies that's so tightly written and densely plotted, it leaves no room for error -- or viewer queries. Unfortunately, the questions will start flying even before the picture's over.

September 26, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Sure, it strains credulity, but it's clever, well-paced and builds to a spectacular -- if not altogether satisfying -- conclusion.

October 4, 2011 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Good looking, tightly controlled thriller. An exhilarating ride that prepares the ground for Fight Club.

October 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

"The Game" is a thrilling end run of deception in which a master manipulator is masterfully manipulated.

April 29, 2007 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

A solid original screenplay -- one of the best out of Hollywood this year.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

The Game is one of those films that requires the viewer to suspend his disbelief to a great extent, but offers pretty good entertainment in return for that effort.

March 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

The Game is something more than a stylish thriller, though it dishes up style and thrills in abundance.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

You know how some films could be great or have indeed some great moments, but for some reason, are disappointing? This piece is exactly in that category.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Once again, Fincher settles for artifice over art.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine | Comment (1)
Boxoffice Magazine

The rocky blur between reality and fantasy aspires to be a Hitchcockian After Hours, but at two hours plus, The Game gets played out early on.

March 24, 2002 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

David Fincher has emerged as one of the most provocative filmmakers of the decade.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

David Fincher directs this claustrophobic thriller with visceral punch and stylistic vitality.

February 27, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Douglas disintegrates beautifully against the pressure of a constant and unknown threat, played out by a deliciously sinister support cast.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC.com

The movie is saved from its numerous plot holes and logic lapses by Fincher's unrelenting directorial style and a strong central performance by Michael Douglas.

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for The Game

A forgotten Fincher gem to be sure, not exactly an original idea but superbly well made and directed by the cult creator. The plot has been seen before but it works well by playing on the paranoia and scares of everyday life, things that could go wrong if our lives fell apart before our eyes. The fear of losing everything, nowhere to turn, no one to trust, something that all working people can relate to.

Michael Douglas plays 'Nick Van Orton', a very rich Scrooge-like character who cares little for anyone, lives like a king whilst playing the investment banker game. So yeah this could be 'Gordon Gecko' as an older man I guess, its very familiar. Upon receiving a gift card type present from his brother for a 'game' company Orton proceeds ahead with the offer and discovers himself in a world of hurt.

The tension builds at a slow pace as small things start to happen to Orton, nothing much at first but slowly the situation gets worse and worse. It really is quite creepy and uncomfortable to watch as his job is threatened, his home and even the people he knows, the walls come crashing down around him and he's virtually powerless to stop it.

I guess you could say the film is bordering on identity theft of the highest order, with the exception that the main character agreed to everything. That's the itchy fact that sits on your mind the whole time, he agreed to it!! almost like a blackmail fetish. Sure he knew nothing about the company and what was on offer but the trust factor of his brother giving him the gift really adds to the mystery of it all.

But on the flip side this mystery is also slightly damning really. If you really think about it, would anyone really accept what this unknown company offers in the film? would you really go along with all those medical tests and mental tests that last all day and at the end of it sign your life away without a clue what will happen?! I bloody wouldn't!. This is the intrigue (or start of it) but also the main problem with the plot, no one would do that, especially someone like Van Orton with tonnes of money and a grand reputation to lose.

Even if you did agree to this bizarre mystery game, would this company really go as far as they do in the film?. Would a real company really be able to take everything away from you including your property, car, job, friends and family so easily?. Leaving you almost homeless with seemingly everybody against you, people double crossing you, even going as far as to try and kill you!!!, taking you to the point of near break down, suicide or murder...just for a game??...that's a gift!!.

I mean yeah sure the concept for the movie is thrilling but if you step back and look at it its totally insane really. Who could say Van Orton wouldn't blow his brains out very early on or actually kill someone?, on the other hand surely he could easily get around the game by simply going to his building that he owns. The mystery company has seemingly gotten to people, his property and his money but surely they wouldn't be able to get everyone in his own building in on the trick. He could of just walked in there at anytime, his name is on the entrance for pete's sake! did he forget he owned that building? it wouldn't have disappeared.

I must confess to not liking the ending either, it twists more than a helter skelter but instead of leaving you in awe it leaves you thinking Fincher went one step too far. It also feels way too convenient, as if they knew Orton would do what he did, just seems too impossible to predict.

Great colour palette by Fincher too I might add. Rich with dark tones, moody and dull, yet at times kinda faded or washed out, a bit noir-ish and every scene is full of detail. Some of the best visuals are seen when Douglas is relaxing in his luxurious wood panel study, very nice and probably not too far off Douglas' real home decor.

Douglas is also perfect as Orton (he knows how to play slimeballs), the cool, slick, cold business man who is reduced to a quivering wreck with anxiety overload. You can feel the sweat droplets running down your brow as you observe Douglas going through his nightmare, one of his best performances. Despite the over the top nature of the plot the film is a great thriller and succeeds in creating discomfort during the whole run time.
April 18, 2014
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

A misanthropic millionaire gets a strange birthday present from his brother: an invitation to play in "the game," a contest that turns out to have no clear rules but lots of gunplay. Solid thriller that keeps you wondering to the end and disguises its many implausibilities well enough so you don't think about them much until the movie's over.
October 10, 2012
366weirdmovies
Greg S

Super Reviewer

Nicholas: I don't care about the money. I'm pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard. 

"There are no rules in The Game."

The Game is, above anything else, a lot of fun. It's not just entertaining in the ways normal films are, but it actively keeps you in the experience like few movies can. It sucks you in, and your goal is the same as the movies tormented character Nicholas: to find out just what the fuck is going on. Is someone fucking with him? Is he hallucinating? Is he dreaming? Is this a con? Is this a true present? Who the fuck knows, but the lead up to the discovery is magnificent. So what if the payoff is a little too easy. The other 99% of the film is hallucinatory. I couldn't tear my eyes away from it. It's David Fincher doing what he does best. And it's Michael Douglas doing what he does best. Hey, and Sean Penn is there too. What isn't to like? 

Nicholas is an investment banker, who doesn't really do anything other than work. He doesn't have any true relationships anymore outside of his housekeeper. He meets his brother, Conrad, who he hasn't seen in sometime. Conrad gives a birthday gift and it isn't the usual birthday gift. He gives Nicholas a certificate to play some sort of game that is different for every customer. When he decides to go to the CRS office and see what it's all about, his life is thrown upside down. He soon finds himself seeking answers to just what is going on. It's a movie thats pieces fall in place as it goes, and as they do, we discover that this puzzle has some glaring holes in it. Some pieces were lost along the way, but that can't take much away from just how well paced and directed and acted, this film was. 

The Game winds up being a smart, stylish film in the end, no matter how it is wrapped up. There's a trend to Fincher films. They are all smart and stylish. The movies style is equaled by its substance. I appreciate how far this movie goes to warp our view of the situations and occurrences of the events in Nicholas' game experience. The twist at the end isn't one that will completely make or break the movie in your mind. It's just there. The lead up is the movie. The twist is just some way to end it. 

A highly recommended film. If you can't have fun watching The Game, then I don't what type of movie could make you have fun. This one is as entertaining a movie as you could hope for. Is it as good, technically speaking, as Fincher's other thrillers like Seven and Fight Club? No, but it is just as involving, twisted, and entertaining. Another movie to use as evidence to show just how great of a director Fincher is. 
July 12, 2012
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

David Fincher's sophomore bout 'The Game' should not disappoint any remote fan of his. Yet the average viewer may find few things to dissipate their interest. The mood is a chronic gloom that has found its way into most of Fincher's work, and 'The Game' may be the worst offender. It's not entirely a bad thing that the movie has a very dark mood, but it is nice to see some glance of positivity every once in awhile. The script isn't his best either, but the acting was done well. 'The Game' is far from Fincher's best, but tht does not mean it is hard to enjoy. This is a moody thriller that takes its viewer for a spin. An exhausting conundrum of a spin, but a spin no less.
June 22, 2012
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

    1. Conrad: [on Consumer Recreation Services] They make your [Nicholas] life fun.
    – Submitted by Jacob H (20 months ago)
    1. Jim Feingold: What are you gonna do, anyway? You won't get your money back.
    2. Nicholas Van Orton: I don't care about money. I'm pulling back the curtain. I want to meet the wizard.
    – Submitted by Mike B (22 months ago)
    1. Nicholas Van Orton: I'm a very wealthy man. Whatever they're paying, I'll double it.
    – Submitted by Mike B (23 months ago)
    1. Conrad: Holding t-shirt, which reads: I was drugged and left for dead in Mexico - and all I got was this stupid t-shirt.
    – Submitted by Mike B (23 months ago)
    1. Nicholas Van Orton: [Nicholas van Orten loses a shoe when climbing a fire-escape ladder] There goes a thousand dollars.
    2. Christine: Your shoes cost a thousand dollars?
    3. Nicholas Van Orton: That one did.
    – Submitted by Sam B (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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