The Game

1997

The Game

Critics Consensus

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

73%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 56

84%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 141,698
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The Game Photos

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 brother Conrad (Sean Penn) blows into town and gives Nicholas a special gift for "the man who has everything" -- a ticket to CRS (Consumer Recreation Services), a company that constructs games custom-fit for each participant to provide, as CRS salesman Jim Feingold (James Rebhorn) cryptically puts it, "whatever is lacking." Nicholas's secure life begins a downhill slide as CRS masterminds a series of elaborate pranks, harmless at first, that quickly become malicious and life-threatening. Stripped of financial resources and convinced that he can trust no one, Nicholas begins to wonder if CRS is a front for a more covert operation, and if the game is in fact an attempt to steal his fortune and leave him for dead. Determined to fight back alone, Nicholas infiltrates CRS in order to "pull back the curtain and meet the wizard." ~ Anthony Reed, Rovi

Cast

Michael Douglas
as Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn
as Conrad
James Rebhorn
as Jim Feingold
Peter Donat
as Samuel Sutherland
James Brooks
as James the Bartender
Keena Turner
as Officer Hicks
Spike Jonze
as Beltran, Airbag EMT
Scott Hunter McGuire
as Young Nicholas
Charles Martinet
as Nicholas's Father
Florentine Mocanu
as Nicholas's Mother
John Aprea
as Power Executive
Harrison Young
as Obsequious Executive
Kimberly Russell
as Cynthia, CRS Receptionist
Joe Frank
as CRS Data Collecting Technician
Gerry Becker
as New Member Ted
Jarlon Monroe
as New Member Victor
Tommy Flanagan
as Solicitor/Taxi Driver
Bill Flannery
as Tubercular Commuter
Kathryn Jean Harris
as Rattle Gatherer
John Cassini
as Man in Airport
Aaron Thomas Luchich
as City Club Waiter
Victor Talmadge
as City Club Maitre D'
Marc Siegler
as City Club Waiter
Andre Brazeau
as Heart Attack Performer
Carlos Hoy
as Paramedic Graves
Edward Campbell
as Paramedic Stern
Sean Lanthier
as Paramedic Kirkland
Curtis Vanterpool
as Ambulance EMT
Jay Gordon
as Triage Doctor
Jeffery Michael Young
as Officer Walker
Owen Masterson
as Pickpocket
Yuji Okumoto
as Nikko Hotel Manager
Hideo Kimura
as Nikko Hotel Bellhop
Rachel Schadt
as Nikko Hotel Maid
Mark Boone Jr.
as Shady Private Investigator
Joy Ann Ryan
as Kaleigh Baer
Pete Davidian
as Mr. Garcia
Jack Kehoe
as Lieutenant Sullivan
Christopher John Fields
as Detective Boyle
Linda Manz
as Christine's Roommate Amy
Victor Ferrerira
as Assassin Mobubbi
Duffy Gaver
as Assassin Brodi
Bob Stephenson
as Assassin Kartmann
Sean Moloney
as Assassin Rankin
John Hammil
as US Embassy Counselor
Rachel Steinberg
as Sheraton Desk Clerk
George Maguire (II)
as Sheraton Manager
Trish Sommerville
as Hot Waitress
Lily Soh Froehlich
as New Moon Cafe Manager
Tammy Koehler
as Tammy Fisher
Michael Lynwood
as Michael Fisher
Alex Lynwood
as Alex Fisher
Michael Massee
as Airbag EMT Galliano
View All

News & Interviews for The Game

Critic Reviews for The Game

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (41) | Rotten (15)

  • The rational side of my brain can pick this movie apart until all that's left is incoherent threads. The movie-mad side, happy to lose control, had a hell of a good time.

    Feb 27, 2018 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Oct 4, 2011 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 26, 2009

    Todd McCarthy

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The film's 'message' about complacency transformed by chaos and uncertainty is hackneyed...

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top 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.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Douglas disintegrates beautifully against the pressure of a constant and unknown threat, played out by a deliciously sinister support cast.

    Apr 17, 2001 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Game

  • Aug 07, 2018
    A sensational thriller that cannot stand up to ANY amount of scrutiny whatsoever. If you are willing to suspend your reason, and simply enjoy the atmosphere and acting, this is a top-flight mystery with some fantastic scenes. Fincher is a great director, and this is one of my favorite Fincher movies. I enjoy this movie much more than Seven. I don't like the ending of either movie, but this movie has originality and some of the best atmosphere and imagery in movies. If you don't judge it, or raise any of the MANY questions about how this "game" could have gone wrong in 10,000 ways, you can appreciate where they were going with this movie. I wish there were more like it. For me, it's what movies are about.
    Mark H Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2013
    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.
    Phil H Super Reviewer
  • Jun 29, 2013
    With David Fincher at the helm, of course "The Game" is dark, gritty, and engaging. The dark streets and even darker characters scream Fincher's directing style and delivers a different take on the suspense thriller. Michael Douglas takes control of his spiraling character, Nicholas Van Orton, like no one else can, bringing shades of his Oscar winning performance of Gordon Gekko to a darker and more suspenseful level. What "The Game" lacks in cohesion and believability, it makes up for in immersing plot developments and twisting logic. The bright spot of Fincher's third film is the convoluted nature of all the elements, creating a world that not even the audience is sure what's real and what's not, until the bitter end. We're told from the start that this will all be a game, but as we start cycling through personal hits and conspiracy theories, we are not so sure anymore. Everyone has their part to play and they play it wonderfully, especially Sean Penn and Deborah Kara Unger, who both spin a web of false truths and unexpected turns, with hints of "Vanilla Sky" and "The Truman Show" all mixed into one. Fincher knows his strengths and weaknesses and in doing so, develops a strong feature film, matching the style of his previous work, but breaking the boundaries of the genres he chooses to explore.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2013
    An entertaining thriller filled of twists and turns but ultimately fails, because even on it's implausability (which I don't mind), it doesn't feel very plausable and doesn't know very well where to turn and what tone to adopt.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer

The Game Quotes

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