In THE GAME, Douglas is Nicholas Van Orton; a man of great wealth and power and totally devoid of any human compassion (as evidenced by the cold and callous way in which he fires a longtime employee). If this sounds like Gordon Gekko to you, it's because Michael Douglas, at this stage in his career, plays cold callousness like no one else. Call it typecasting; I call it brilliant acting ability and being smart enough to stick with what works. However, Gordon Gekko in the legendary Oliver Stone-directed WALL STREET (1987) didn't have a younger brother; Nicholas Van Orton does. On Nick's 48th birthday (the same age at which his father died, hint hint), his black-sheep-of-the-family brother Conrad, as brilliantly played by Sean Penn, visits him in his sprawling, cherry-wood office and hands his older sibling his birthday present: a business card with the name Consumer Recreation Services (CRS) on it. "What is this," Nicholas cynically asks. The sly answer given by Penn is one of my favorite lines in the film, and one that tells us that his elder bro's life will never be the same, once he begins to play THE GAME.
Along the way, Nicholas Van Orton encounters CRS and its primary spokesman (or so he thinks) Jim Feingold (played with disarming confidence by character actor James Rebhorn), a mouthy cocktail waitress (Deborah Kara Unger) who seems to hold the secret to THE GAME, and a spooky-looking full-size inanimate clown who appears to watch everything he does. Also along the way are near-brushes with death that culminate with Conrad Van Orton's tearful admission that he "didn't know what the $#@! he had gotten them into" when he had signed his brother up for THE GAME. But that's still just the beginning...
Everyone is superbly cast in this film, including BABY DOLL (1956) herself, Carroll Baker, and the always-watchable Armin Mueller-Stahl. But the real star here is David Fincher; he is so adept at guiding us down a labyrinthic path of which only he knows the end, that all we can do is hang on and enjoy the rollercoaster ride on which he breathlessly takes us. He primarily relies on small, subtle signs of foreboding to generate suspense, as opposed to full-blown violence and gore. Although this is one of those films that relies on first-time viewers' lack of knowledge of what to expect, and thusly loses something on repeated viewings, it is still a very good film to re-visit on occasion, if only to experience Fincher's unique style (this film and A PERFECT MURDER are miles apart in this respect, believe me), Douglas and Penn's acting and the production values, which are first-rate.
See and experience THE GAME for yourself.