Reindeer Games Recap

Jamie

You know you’ve struck gold when at the very end of the film the twist is revealed and the main character doesn’t crumble in disbelief at how he was had by such an intricate and beautiful plot. Instead he stares blankly at the other characters and mentions off-hand at how ludicrous and unlikely it all was. To which the antagonists go, “Well, you ever heard of a longshot?” You could feel the screenwriter patting you on the head and going, “shhh, shhhh, don’t you worry your little head about this. Everything is going to be OK. Just understand… all these characters are real big dumbos. Like the biggest idiots. None of this made any sense because they are stupid and set up a plot that shouldn’t have worked… but somehow it almost did (which is why I wrote a movie about it). Merry Christmas.”

Just to briefly recap the plot, Rudy is in prison where mere days before he and his cellmate Nick are set to be released he is attacked and Nick is killed. When he leaves prison he sees Ashley, the woman Nick has been communicating with, and impulsively lets her believe he’s actually Nick. They begin a torrid love affair, only for Ashely’s brother, Gabriel, and his trucker gang to show up and demand he help them with a heist of a casino that Nick used to work at. Facing death, Rudy agrees. During the heist everything goes sideways and only Ashley, Gabriel, and Rudy survive. But uh oh! Turns out Nick is alive and it was all a long con (WHAT A DOUBLE TWIST!!!). Too bad for Ashley and Nick, though, because Rudy is able to kill them both and gives away all the money. Merry Christmas. It’s actually kind of a fun 90’s heist film other than the fact that the twist-em-ups are so dumbo supreme that you could never actually claim it was a good film with a straight face. But that gets me to my Hot Take Clam Bake: the plan should have worked!

Hear me out. So the set up is that Nick and Ashley are long time lovers who concoct an intricate plan after Nick lands himself in jail. He’s gonna tell his cellmate everything about a casino that’s easy to rob. Meanwhile Ashley will fall in with a trucker gang where she plants the seed of an idea whereby she would write to an inmate to find a target for a heist. From there Nick will fake his death, paying off numerous prison employees, and let the cellmate fall into the hands of the truckers who will demand the heist go forward. From there they are in the clear until the heist is finished. That is as long as the cellmate does in fact impersonate Nick… and the truckers don’t figure out that he’s not Nick and just kill him. Sure it’s a longshot, but fortunately everyone is super dumb. So it all should have worked. The fatal flaw? Hubris, my friends. Classic hubris. Nick can’t help but reveal himself to Rudy. It’s actually really bad considering the whole plan is to protect Nick and Ashley as much as possible from being involved in the plot. So why not let Gabriel, a more adept murderer, actually murder Rudy and then quickly murder Gabriel. It doesn’t make sense and is the only reason it wasn’t actually a perfect twist… other than the twist being totally insane.

That hot take is scored as a Chilled Eggnog. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Reindeer Games? More like Drains my Brains! Amirite? Are you ready for a real twist-’em’up? Will you better be, because there ain’t no way there aren’t like seventeen twists in this thing. Let’s go!

  • Oooooooo doggy, that twist! I mean like … the second twist. Or maybe the third. Well whatever, the last twist is the craziest. Like “oh man it turns out Theron set Affleck up … wait, she’s dating Sinese? Oh, I see it is like a real set up … oh wait, Nick is still alive! That plan seems … unlikely to work.” That is my train of thought throughout the film.
  • Don’t worry they lampshade the whole plan thing saying they just kind of hoped it would work or something, it’s dumb.
  • Sinese and Theron are both good, but Affleck feels a bit out of his element. It was early in his career, and he’s very charming, but he comes across as a bad actor.
  • As far as a heist film is concerned this is pretty fun even if it is a bit frustrating trying to figure out what Affleck knows, when he knows it, and what his motivations might be in pretending he doesn’t know it, you know? I’m pretty sure he knew everything they were asking of him, but he was always withholding as much as possible as a ploy to get away at various times, but it was confusing. But he knew about the Powwow Safe (and you can see so did Theron who tries to dissuade her co-conspirators from going after it when it is opened), so he must have known about everything in a way.
  • A great great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Northern Michigan where, oh boy, is it a-snowing. Great Holiday Film (When?) for it being set at Christmas specifically and dressing up everyone as Santa Claus. I’m going to give it a MacGuffin (Why?) for the casino, kind of, but mostly for the Powwow Safe which is a big thing that constantly gets mentioned and ultimately has a huge payoff for what is in it. And finally this might be the stone cold winner of Worst Twist (How?) for the ultimate twist that Nick was alive all along and manipulating Rudy to get him to rob the casino for him. I think this is very much closest to Good, it is kind of a good movie if you ignore all the twist-em-ups.
  • Oh man, Live Free or Die Hardcopy is back jack! So in this one we really only have two special features and in reality it is just one special feature. There is a Set Visit, which is mostly people explaining how they wanted to work with Frankenheimer and then Frankenheimer saying a bunch of stuff that is also in the commentary (C+, fun to see how a movie is made at least). And then a commentary … which is just Frankenheimer explaining stuff (D, interesting if you care about direction, but this is absolutely the epitome of “one person is not enough for a commentary.” The whole thing just draaaaaaaaaaags). I might stop listening to commentaries with just the director, they are almost always terrible.

And of course I outlined my sequel to Reindeer Games called Reindeer Games: Independence Day in the Quiz. Cheerios, and back to you Jamie!

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