Archive for the ‘Reindeer Games’ Category

32 – Reindeer Games

August 16, 2000

Ben Affleck plays Rudy, a con just trying to go straight (are there other kinds in the movies?), waiting for his imminent release. He and his cellmate Nick each have plans of enjoying themselves once they get out of stir. Nick’s involves meeting and spending the rest of his life with a woman he’s never met, a pen pal named Ashley (Charlize Theron). Ah, but the best-laid plans and all that go horribly awry when Nick is slain a few days before they’re both due to be sprung. What a coincidence! Naturally, Rudy pretends to be Nick to Ashley, discovering her to be quite the cutie. You see, he’s just gotten out of prison, hasn’t been with a woman in years, and…. Well, anyway, he hooks up with the gorgeous Ashley, and all is well – for a few hours, anyway, until Ashley’s brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) shows up and demands Rudy/Nicky help him and his gang – who have never robbed anyone – pull off a heist of a local Indian casino. Of course, Rudy, being Rudy and not Nick, doesn’t know a thing about the casino (Nick was a guard there years ago). And he tries to tell Gabriel that. But wouldn’t you know it, the creep just won’t listen! (Bad guys are like that.)

So your basic plot involves Rudy trying to help/not help these guys with their evil plan, and of course they’ll stop at nothing, and of course things go wrong, etc. Oh sure, there are a few plot twists, and some will have you guessing, but my bet is there’s going to be a lot in this movie that you’ve seen before. And if you think the plot’s relatively ho-hum, with few surprises, then you’re left with the performances of the three main leads.

Ben Affleck is miscast, in my opinion. His character’s not terribly likeable (I mean he DOES lie to Charlize Theron, after all), but that’s not his fault. Affleck’s problem is that he combines arrogance with tough-guy attitude and thinks it makes him multifaceted. No, Ben, it makes you look like a jerk. A better choice for this role might have been Edward Norton (Fight Club). Norton can play tough with foibles, and I don’t think Affleck has that ability.

Charlize Theron is outstanding. She delivers a deep, stunning performance that produces new wrinkles with each scene. Much like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, Theron is crafty, essaying more in those bewitching eyes than most actors can in an entire soliloquy.

And Gary Sinise? He’s Gary Sinise. He’s sinister, he’s mean-spirited….he’s the heavy. He’s the bad guy, folks, and Sinise has played this role a few times, so he knows what he’s doing. Oh sure, maybe his character is nothing more than a cardboard Bad Guy role, but hey, that’s more the fault of the screenwriting than it is of the actor, so I won’t blame him. I’ve seen his talent range, and I know he’s got some. (See Of Mice and Men or The Green Mile or Ransom.)

Bottom line – it’s not exactly filled with the kind of twists that’ll keep you guessing, but it’s not too bad. It is, however, a bit of a comedown from the director of The Manchurian Candidate. But fret not, friends – it is, after all, a rental at this point, and it’s worth the $3.50 or so.

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