Reindeer Games (2000)


Director: John Frankenheimer

Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese, Charlize Theron, Dennis Farino,  James Frain, Isaac Hayes, Donal Logue, Danny Trejo, Clarence Williams II.

Rudy (Affleck) is in jail for car theft, serving more time than his fellow r*pists and m*rderers. He and his cellmate Nick (Frain), are days away from release. Rudy is heading home to his parents; Nick is heading to his beautiful pen pal girlfriend Ashley (Theron).

When Nick is (*spoiler* but it happens in the first ten minutes of the movie) killed in a prison riot, Rudy (having read all the letters) decides to take Nick’s place, and pretend to be his pal. This is all going well for him until Ashley’s brother Gabriel (Sinese) catches up with them, and wants “Nick” to help them rob the casino that Nick used to work at!

This movie has historically been one of the casts’ least favourite movie that they have made, with most of them continually put it down throughout their careers (an amusingly meta example is when Affleck is playing himself alongside best friend Matt Damon in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), and Theron has said the only reason she starred in it was to work with legendary director Frankenheimer. This would end up being Frankenheimer’s (who had directed such cinema marvels as The Manchurian Candidate, French Connection II and Ronin amongst others) final film.

I will say it here ‘I LIKED THIS MOVIE’. Yes, there I said it.  It’s no Oscar bait, but it is not a terrible movie. From a typical Ehren Kruger script, there are many twists and turns in the second half of the movie (one reviewer succinctly put it that there are more twists and turns than a pretzel, which is completely true.

Some negatives, is Frankenheimer’s trademark of two performers in one shot – one extreme close up, the other in the foreground seems to be overused, and feels jarring and clunky. A positive is that Sinese appeared to be having fun as the antagonist.


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