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Michael Douglas goes through the ringer on this irresistible new Criterion Blu-ray edition of the David Fincher thriller....
Criterion / 128 Minutes / 1997 / Rated R / Street Date: September 18, 2012
David Fincher's post-Panic Room career has made a believer out of me. I stood by Alien 3 and Seven when they were first released (I've since retreated a bit in my admiration for them), but Fight Club and the aforementioned Panic Room (starring an impossibly young Kristen Stewart!) were so violently awful that I all but dismissed the guy as a schlock-y genre hack (Fight Club lovers, feel free to disagree).
But Zodiac shut me up. And then The Social Network knocked me to the ground, and the grotesquely underrated Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sealed the deal: Fincher's early works may not have resonated with me, but at this point, I'll happily attest that he belongs toward the top of the heap of working filmmakers. With a steely perfection and an acidic presentation of the human struggle in the modern world, the guy has become a world-class storyteller.
This new status allows for a particularly intriguing reassessment of his earlier material, which this Criterion Blu-ray edition of The Game makes possible wonderfully. When it first arrived, The Game was loopy and enjoyable, but never felt like anything more than a lark, a chance for Michael Douglas to take a dark journey down a poorly-lit hallway of mirrors. There isn't a retroactive brilliance to the movie to draw attention to on this high-def release, but there are definitely seeds of Fincher's eventual talents that appear quite resolutely.
This reeks of the innate snootiness of film criticism, but The Game now isn't just an early Fincher piece - it's a precursor to what would eventually be a staggeringly unique and informative directorial style. The Game isn't a masterpiece, but it foreshadows other masterpieces that Fincher would end up creating. As a stone in the path toward Fincher's cinematic greatness, The Game is integral: its flickers of genius foreshadow what would evolve to be one of the most inimitable voices in modern film.