For the follow-up to his dark crime thriller SEVEN, director David Fincher decided to remain in a film noir vein. The result is THE GAME, a fast-paced cinematic roller-coaster ride that stars Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, a joyless San Francisco investment banker who receives an unusual birthday present from his estranged younger brother, Conrad (Sean Penn). The Gift enrolls Nicholas in CRS (Consumer Recreation Services), a company that designs elaborate real-life games for each specific participant. As the game begins, the reluctant Nicholas becomes the victim of a series of pranks that quickly turn malicious and dangerous. Stripped of his finances and convinced that he can trust no one, Nicholas realizes that this game may be an attempt to steal his fortune and leave him for dead. In a desperate bid to regain his life, Nicholas infiltrates CRS in order to uncover the secrets of the mysterious organization. Douglas is perfect playing the uptight businessman Nicholas, cleverly riffing on his Oscar-winning performance as the cold-blooded Gordon Gekko in WALL STREET. Fincher's Kafkaesque carnival show is an exercise in taut filmmaking that mischievously pulls a seemingly endless supply of rugs out from under both Nicholas and, even more impressive, the viewer.
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