“The Game” | Movie Review

The Game (1997) 1Grade: (A)

A well crafted thriller with that delivers high amounts of intrigue with great cast performances as well as solid writing that builds many tense moments.


Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas) has it all; a beautiful home, clothes, cars, and plenty of money to spare. This lifestyle Nicholas worked so hard to achieve has come at a price. He lives a life of solitude without many people in his life, that do not work for him.

He seems content in his lonely existence but everything he thinks he understands about life as well as himself will be turned upside down when he gets an odd present from his estranged younger brother Conrad (Penn). This mysterious invitation will break Nicholas down and if he can make it to the end, he will find enlightenment money cannot buy.

This is a classic thriller from the 90’s that never gets old for me and every handful of years it still delivers an entertaining tale. Michael Douglas is excellent as the wealthy financier who is always in control in the situation. The script quickly sets this premise early in the first-act and once built, the many moments later in the story-line where Douglas’ characters is far from the controller, moments that test his bravery and at times his sanity, make for some great scenes.

His expressions and raw emotions conveyed throughout the film are great in adding to the mysteriousness of the films overall premise. Douglas’ conveyance of smug arrogance and lack of empathy serve as an interesting and amusing set-up for the later moments where he frantically tries to adjust to one unthinkable scenario after another. The plot takes awhile to reveal itself and the result is an intriguing first couple acts that keep you mentally enthralled as well as in the dark to the final reveal. This story keeps you guessing and on alert as the mystery of this story keeps a quick pace and is continually evolving as it progresses.

The Game (1997) 11

Throughout the film there always seems like a hidden meaning is being revealed to the events taking place, or if not, a build-up for something to come, and this holds the intrigue at a high level. The rest of the cast beside Douglas were enjoyable as well. Sean Penn and James Rebhorn, although in smaller roles still brought strong characters to life and with little screen-time they still managed to leave a presence, and in Penn’s case a strong impact.

Deborah Kara Unger was very good in her role too and her cold expressions and calculating demeanor made for a shifty character you could never be too sure of. Unger’s chemistry with Douglas was solid and their awkward connection was interesting as she seemed to be in control of their situations over the bewilderment Douglas’ character exhibits for a good bulk of the film.

Regardless of the good things this film delivers it would go without saying the strongest element to this one is the sharply written script. The flow is great from drama, to suspense, and some mild action delivering a bit of everything in a good thriller. The dialogue is intelligently written and the creativity in the theme of this Douglas led film make it a must-see for anyone who hasn’t yet. Your attention will be pulled in, and this interesting tale will keep you guessing.


Time: 129 min

MPAA Rating: R (For language, and for some violence and sexuality)


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