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I know many people who aren't going to go see this movie because it stars Michael Douglas. Something about him, they say, is smarmy, whiny, ingratiating—perhaps because he spent most of the '80s and '90s representing the characters we liked least about ourselves. Who could deal with the divorced ninny in "War of the Roses," the greedy Gecko in "Wall Street," or the pusillanimous weenie of "Disclosure" and "Fatal Attraction"?
Well, I'm here to tell ya, if you don't go see "The Game" because of that, you're missing a good one for no reason. Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a super-billionaire who witnessed his father commit suicide as a child, and has remained an emotional stone since. His ne'er-do-well little brother Conrad (Sean Penn) gets him a birthday present—a "subscription" to The Game, an entertainment service brought to you by the mysterious Consumer Recreational Services. Spiritually dead, Van Orton agrees to the venture, only to find out he was rejected—or was he?—then his world is turned not just upside-down, but twisted backward into a vortex of lies, deception, drugs, women, car chases and the obligatory trip to Mexico.
Director David Fincher, who made "Seven" unbearably beautiful to look at, imbues "The Game" with enough surreal touches and deft pieces of film noir to keep this thing spinning delicately aloft in your hindbrain; this movie is a fantastic ride, and the endings—all three of them—have me salivating for the next screenplay by John Brancato and Michael Ferris. Ignore your hatred for Michael Douglas and give "The Game" your $10; if you liked "The Usual Suspects" and "The Last Seduction," you're going to be way into it.
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