Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Wonder Boys a subtle wonder

Reindeer Games playfully follows the rules

Afterglow worth the long wait

Reindeer Games playfully follows the rules

Gazette file photo
EVENTUALLY, SANTA GOT TIRED OF LITTLE GIRLS ASKING FOR MATT DAMON POSTERS. In-no-way bitter Ben Affleck stars in the new John Frankenheimer flick, Reindeer Games.

By Aaron St. John
Gazette Staff

First of all, yes Reindeer Games is set at Christmas and no, it doesn't make sense that it's being released in theatres now. However, if you can get over this lack of logic, you're in for an entertaining ride.

Ben Affleck (Good Will Hunting, Dogma) plays Rudy Duncan who has been released from prison and is attempting to start a new life with the girl of his dreams, Ashley, played by Charlize Theron (The Cider House Rules).

Rudy's hopes for a white picket fence life, however, are interrupted by the appearance of Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Of Mice And Men) portraying Ashley's brother, Gabriel. Gabriel has plans to use Rudy in the robbery of a casino in rural Michigan. This elaborate plan leads to a high energy thriller which finds Affleck and Theron on an action-packed escape amidst several surprising plot twists.

Helmed by veteran director John Frankenheimer, the man behind such classic films as The Manchurian Candidate and Birdman Of Alcatraz, as well as the recent Robert De Niro thriller Ronin, this film boasts some nail-baiting scenes the best of which involves Affleck and Theron running for their lives over a frozen lake while pursued by Sinise and his entourage. Frankenheimer is an old pro at creating truly inventive and original action sequences and he doesn't disappoint here.

Frankenheimer's past films have been, for the most part, remarkably serious and stolid, but Reindeer Games is infused with several humorous scenes which work well to offset the tension that builds throughout the film. He also re-asserts his mastery of the camera, filming several scenes from unorthodox angles and uses cinematography which occasionally gives the film an other-worldly feel – two stylistic bonuses not often found in action/thriller runs of this sort.

Reindeer Games is an exciting and enjoyable picture, but is by no means perfect. Much of the dialogue is weak, with many lines coming across as awkward and scripted. As for the performances, Affleck is quickly establishing himself as a one-note leading man. That's not to say that he's bad – far from it, he just seems to play every role in the exact same way.

Theron doesn't really have a lot to do in this movie other than look sexy (which she does quite well) and scream. Sinise on the other hand, turns in a wonderfully nuanced performance, which is helped somewhat by his newly muscled frame. Other notable performances include Clarence Williams III of TV's The Mod Squad and soul man Isaac Hayes as a looney inmate.

On the strength of its stimulating action scenes and comedic elements, Reindeer Games manages to overcome its weaknesses and remain a diverting film. It's unlikely to be graced with any prestigious awards, but it's a good way to kill an afternoon.

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