David Fincher is lauded as a master of our time. Not only has he directed cult favorites (Fight Club) , but he also has made true masterpieces (Zodiac) and oscar fodder (The Social Network). Of course he has also made some duds (Can I get a Curious Case of Benjamin Button for ten please?), but he can usually be counted on for a slick interesting thriller. So what happened here, Mr. Fincher? Why did you make such a unique premise so incredibly dull to watch?
The unique premise involves an insanely rich man who plays this game that entails him losing everything he has ever had and held dear for fun. Michael Douglas plays the cocky rich guy and Sean Penn plays his brother who gives him a gift certificate to this company that puts on THE GAME… (woah that’s the title!) He then throws money at everything that ruins his life until he realizes it was all just… a… game!
I think my main problem with the film was that Fincher tried too hard to Sevenify it. Seven was the film he made right before he made this one and it was in fact one of his masterpieces. He took a dark and scary premise (a serial killer bases his kills on the seven deadly sins) and made it creepy as hell. He injected poetic realism into a premise that could have easily been cheesy and over the top. And then he twisted it at the end so beautifully and made the whole film worth my time. But this film is not Seven. It does not have a manic villain like Kevin Spacey, real stakes, a likable character or someone for Michael Douglas to play off of like Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt could play off of each other. The film is the premise. You need to amp it up and make it cheesy in order for anyone to learn anything or at least enjoy themselves. I want to be able to take pleasure in all of the bad things that happen to this unlikable character instead of just be bored by them. And don’t use the exact same look that you employed for your first film. He may have thought about his choice of cinematography very deeply, but it seems like he was cutting corners.
This film is frustrating to watch because it could have easily been something worth watching. He had good actors, a strong premise, and some good dialogue. If only he would have pushed it an inch further, worked on it for a little bit longer, he could have made a masterpiece. Instead he just settled for a Seven Part 2: Eight. (That was the original title of the film… )