review for The Game on AllMovie

The Game (1997)
by Karl Williams review

Another superb thriller from the writing team behind The Net (1995) and director David Fincher, who once again turns even the most static, mundane sequences into visually arresting blitzkriegs of sound, motion, and composition. Michael Douglas is his typically solid self as a privileged, powerful white man whose old boy network entitlements are stripped away, a role he's played before and is starting to buff to a well-oiled sheen. He gets able supporting work from Sean Penn, who really only has two scenes in which he can shine, and Deborah Kara Unger as the under-realized love interest who, to be fair, really can't be better delineated without spoiling the surprise ending. The complex script folds in on itself in satisfying fashion, with a few glaring questions lingering (the result of a third act fall off a skyscraper begs some further explanation), but not to such a degree that the film is spoiled. Where the film achieves "underrated classic" status, however, is in Fincher's relentlessly interesting direction. He seems to combine the drive of Oliver Stone with the class and flair of Alfred Hitchcock, all funneled through the sensibilities of MTV and Generation X. Fincher has the artistic chops to be one of the top shooters alive, but he has the good grace and wisdom to let his script be his guide. The Game (1997) is, just like the film that would follow it, 1999's Fight Club, a superior genre film that deserves more respect.