The Game

Director:David Fincher
Writers:John D. Brancato, Michael Ferris
Director of Photography:Harris Savides
Editor:Jim Haygood II
Music:Howard Shore
Production Designer:Jeffrey Beecroft
Producers:Cean Chaffin and Steve Golin
PolyGram; R; 128 minutes
Cast:Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Unger, James Rebhorn, Anna Katerina, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker and Armin Mueller-Stahl

One can easily imagine the studio-executive meeting that spawned this manipulative, bloated-budget thriller. “Okay, we'll cast Michael Douglas as ... Michael Douglas. We'll combine all of his roles from his previous films, Wall Street, Falling Down, Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct.” Here Douglas plays Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy, mopey banker who's facing his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide). His former-druggie brother (a role wasted on Penn) gives Van Orton an unusual gift: a card that entitles him to enter a real-life “game” as orchestrated by a ridiculously bizarre entertainment firm. Van Orten decides to “play” and suddenly a barrage of uncanny and frightening events begins to happen to him, including running into a woman (Unger) who — oops! — isn't wearing panties. It's an interesting premise, but with too few thrills and too many plot machinations, this game ultimately plays itself out.

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