Viewed – 22 August 2017 Blu-ray
20th Anniversary Edition
As an admirer of director David Fincher, this thriller from 1997 was one of those movies I’d forgotten he’d actually made. At the time still riding high after the success of Seven, this rather high-concept but somewhat under-the-radar effort proved an obvious follow up; throwing in all the traits we’d come to expect from the director – bags of style, a twisting narrative and an attention to detail that has him often compared to Stanley Kubrick.
Michael Douglas stars as wealthy businessman Nicholas Van Orton, a guy who seemingly has it all but is ultimately cold and miserable. That is until on the day of his birthday, his brother, played by Sean Penn gives him the gift of ‘the game’. Baffled and intrigued at the same time, Nicholas agrees to attend an interview at the organization responsible … and so sets into motion a unique thriller that clearly borrows from the likes of Hitchcock as Nicholas struggles to stay one step ahead of an increasingly bizarre series of events.
I’ve always liked Michael Douglas and he’s very good here, proving complex and likable for a character that is otherwise mean spirited and selfish. Penn hams it up a little bit but proves enjoyable and Deborah Kara Unger is also decent. The idea itself is great but ultimately isn’t fully realised and despite Fincher’s assured direction and best intentions … it could have gone further, been more elaborate but sticks rigidly to plausibility for the most part (despite throwing all that out the window for the final act). Not one of Fincher’s best but still worth a look or revisiting for the concept or if you’re a fan of either Douglas or Fincher.
The Blu-ray boasts a quality image despite the occasionally soft-looking exterior or wide angle shots. Close-up detail is good and dark scenes offer plenty of detail. The movie is delivered in DTS Master Audio 5.1 and is for the most part punchy and immersive, even if in certain scenes dialogue gets a little lost in the atmospherics. Extras consist of merely a couple of trailers – very poor, but perhaps not surprising for one of the director’s more over-looked movies.
(the movie) 3.5 /5
(the Blu-ray) 3 /5