Reindeer Games [2000]

To fully enjoy Reindeer Games, it must be approached properly: your disbelief must be checked at the door, as this John Frankenheimer film needs be taken with a liberal dose of pure faith in the magic of movie plotting. Christmas approaches and all Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) can think about is the hot chocolate and pecan pie beckoning when he gets out of prison in a couple of days. But standing between him and his sated stomach is Ashley (Charlize Theron), an irresistible woman waiting for him upon his release. Without giving away any of the myriad twists of this thriller, Rudy falls for Ashley, thus becoming forcibly embroiled in a casino-robbery scheme helmed by Ashley's brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise). Frankenheimer, who excels at devious plot machinations, à la The Manchurian Candidate, goes far enough here to stretch the patience of even his most loyal fans. The script relies a little heavily on bad Christmas jokes, and the film is overwhelmed with close-ups. The convoluted turns become outrageous to the point of ludicrous; yet it's all done in the spirit of fun, and once you get past the implausibility, Frankenheimer takes you on a rousing ride. While Affleck doesn't seem quite hardened enough to be a convicted car thief, he does a superb job with a thin script, and Sinise is as sinister as ever. Theron provides more decoration than acting due to the lightweight plot, but my, what lovely decoration she is. For a thought-provoking evening, stick with the earlier Frankenheimer films; for an adrenaline-pumping evening, Reindeer Games has all the violence, chases, and sex scenes for a night of entertaining diversion. --Jenny Brown

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