Reindeer Games (2000)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Caper  |   Release Date - Feb 25, 2000 (USA)  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by John L. Messina

With Reindeer Games, Ben Affleck fails to capitalize on his Good Will Hunting and Armageddon box-office buzz. Taking a whack at an action thriller, Affleck comes off as lightweight and bland. While he adeptly carries the lighter, more comical aspects of the film, he proves he is no action hero in the grittier scenes. The other lead performances also leave something to be desired. Charlize Theron, playing the femme fatale, has the "femme" part down but comes up short in the "fatale" department. Gary Sinise chews a lot of scenery, but offers little in the way of actual characterization. An even bigger problem lies in Ehren Kruger's script. The numerous twists and turns are entertaining as individual slices, but the plot as a whole is nothing believable. It's rather silly, even, with Affleck's Rudy Duncan character making improbable decisions at nearly every key juncture. Even the most unlikely of the plot twists is set up early in the film. While John Frankenheimer has seen better moments as a director (The Manchurian Candidate, Birdman of Alcatraz, Ronin), he and cinematographer Alan Caso do deliver some memorable sights. They make good use of snowy landscapes, and especially compelling is the opening shot, an overhead view of several dead Santas strewn in and about a building. The overall effect, however, is too loose and jokey to make for good noir, which is apparently what Frankenheimer and company were striving to achieve.