The Game

The Game ★★★½

THE RETURN OF THE KING:
The Journey to David Fincher's "Mank" - 3/11

Following up the horrific mastery of Se7en is no easy feat so I don’t exactly blame The Game for being a lessor note in Fincher’s filmography- but despite probably being the worst (well, least best) film of his (excluding the obvious black sheep) it’s still effortlessly well done and as tightly crafted as always. It’s a Neo noir through and through; with minimal, atmospheric lighting, a cinematically moody score, and even classic fade to blacks! It uses its early moments to establish this clean cut sense of security through almost catalog-like framings of vacant offices, restaurants and mansions before absolutely tearing them apart in a wonderfully dreary night time odyssey; filled with all the persistent anxiety and absurd happenings of the genre. The visuals are less overt than something like Se7en but still great; gloriously gloomy and finely cinematic.

Probably the best aspect of The Game is it’s brilliance in conveying pure desperation. It the same feeling of all-mighty, consuming helplessness that later became somewhat a staple of his work (Zodiac, Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl,) but here it’s almost absurdly psychological (unfortunately a tad too absurd to the point of becoming essentially nonsensical- the faulty logistics of it all is easily the main flaw). It twists and turns with such a dramatic fervor and perfectly places you right in the mindset of its main character- played amazingly by Michael Douglas. His cruel demeanor dashed with a heavy helping of anxiety works wonders at connecting the audience: we feel the pressure he’s feeling; we can relate to how warped his mind is. He’s probably the most important factor in pulling this wild ride together; and cementing it as a mind-bending trip.

Although like most trips, there is the comedown. I’ve already briefly mentioned how the logic of it all is flimsy- and yeah it’s a big problem that does hurt a lot of the extra potential impact that this could’ve had. Not only that, but the first forty minutes are kind of dull? I noted how the film uses its first act to establish the cleanliness and safety of the world to tear it down- but I’ll be honest in saying that until the demented adventure begins, it moves quite slowly and I found myself losing slight interest at points. And again, not entirely a huge problem per say, but it’s notable.

Strong, but flawed here or there and those blemishes do drag it down from being one of Fincher’s Masterworks- but that doesn’t mean The Game is worthless of praise. It’s a technically well-crafted and endearingly disturbed Neo-noir trip- and the fact that this is one of his weakest is a testament to how great Fincher is.

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