Michael Douglas awakens into a spiral of terror over which he has no control, eliciting the type of acting last seen from him in Michael Crichton's "Coma".
That 1978 thriller worked so well because the tension grew slowly into a creeping realisation of sinister implications. More importantly, the denouement was appropriately satisfying. Unfortunately this is not so with "The Game". The problem is that the intrigue is so fantastic, and the turn of events so unpredictable, that a viewer with even limited amounts of imagination will have built-up an expectation that this film cannot meet.
It's a theory that Hitchcock believed firmly in, but that is not to say that "The Game" isn't entertaining. Michael Douglas is a winner in a world of high finance and supreme order, where every move he makes is calculated. So when his black sheep brother Sean Penn buys him a gift whereby his existence is turned upside down, it forces Douglas to fight for his life in a world of terrifying improbabilities.
Director David Fincher does a marvellous job of turning ordinary city locations into frightening backdrops, where every corner turned is another step into the unknown. Douglas disintegrates beautifully against the pressure of a constant and unknown threat, played out by a deliciously sinister support cast. So with all these wonderful, thrilling ingredients spiralling the viewer into a frenzy of tension, it's a little disappointing to see how it all ends. It's a hell of a thrill ride getting there though.
"The Game" is on Channel 4, 10.00pm, Sunday 4th March 2001.
Read a review of "The Game DVD".