During the climactic, critical, shocking final scene in David ("Seven") Fincher's new thriller "The Game," super-rich investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) pulls a grenade out of a barrel of grenades, pulls the pin and stuffs it in his brother Conrad's (Sean Penn) mouth. The grenade fails to explode. It fails to explode because it's the barrel's single dud grenade, planted there by Conrad. When it fails to go off, they kiss, make up, and Nicholas is a changed man for having gone through the hell of the game.
Ask yourself what doesn't make sense about this ending and you'll be prepared for what doesn't make sense about the real ending of "The Game." If ever a film's conclusion rendered pointless everything that came before it, the ending of "The Game" does. It's laughably stupid and obviously the product of filmmakers and studio executives sitting around some big table trying to figure out just how dumb their target audience is. Watching this film is like being a rat in a maze -- you work for two hours to finally get to the cheese, only to have your neck abruptly snapped by a trap.
Fincher's other big mistake is making Van Orton such a scumsucking yuppie. He's an insanely rich investment banker (the boring cousin of Gordon Gecko from "Wall Street") who's tried to eliminate all emotion and risk from his life. One day his brother shows up, gives him a card for a free game at a company called CRS, or Consumer Recreation Services, and propels his life into a state of chaos.
The premise alone is enough to sink this atrocious film: Men with guns shooting at rich investment bankers is not my idea of a frightening thriller, it's my dream of a beautiful world. Was I supposed to worry about Van Orton's safety? Can't say I cared much. Think of all the good it would do for Van Orton to get shot -- redistribute his obscene wealth and you'd have a lot of happy folks. If The Game causes any evolution in Van Orton's greedy, robotic personality, it's likely to evaporate the second he gets back to the office.
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