Reindeer Games


Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Written by: Ehren Kruger
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese, Charlize Theron, Dennis Farina, Issac Hayes
Released: October 5, 2000
Grade: C+

It’s funny looking at the tangents the lives of best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck have taken.  After rising through the ranks with Good Will Hunting, Damon took on the more challenging, dramatic roles of Saving Private Ryan, Rounders, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Legend Of Bagger Vance and All The Pretty Horses.

On the other hand, Affleck has chosen more high profile and action roles with Armageddon, Phantoms, Forces Of Nature and now, Reindeer Games.  Personally, I think Damon has made a few better career moves and Affleck needs to exercise more thought when considering subject material such as this.

Rudy Duncan (Affleck) and Nick Cassidy (James Frain) are roommates in the slammer on the verge of being released.  Nick can’t wait to get out because whilst in jail he’s met the woman of his dreams, Ashley (Theron), through a penpal program and after months of       waiting, they can finally meet in the flesh.

However, Nick is stabbed and killed just 48 hours short of his release in a cafeteria brawl.  Against the advice that little voice in his head suggests, Rudy decides that when released, he’ll pretend to be Nick to win the affections of the luscious Ashley.

Things go about as bad as they can go for Rudy when he his attacked by Gabriel (Sinese), Ashley’s brother, who threatens to kill him unless he helps with his scheme.  He’s been reading Nick’s letters to Ashley and knows that he once worked in a casino and also knows the location of all the security cameras, trap doors and secret safes.  Gabriel and his team, with Nick’s knowledge, are going to strike on Christmas Eve to make it a very merry Christmas.  This of course is a problem to Rudy as he is not Nick and knows nothing at all about the casino...

The film started promisingly but the ending is total tripe.  I’ve had a recent dig at “teen horror films” and how their endings are so ludicrous it makes them impossible to substantiate.  Reindeer Games takes this to a new level with the most ridiculous twist one is likely to see.  It make zero sense and if you watched the film a second time, you’d see just how perfect everything went to make the twist work.  Total crap.

The performances aren’t worth raving about nor is the direction from John Frankenheimer who’s own career has deteriorated in recent years.  If you need any more incentive not to see this film, just remember this fact - it’s from the director of The Island Of Dr. Moreau.