Blood in the snow and Santa Clauses with guns aren’t the only surprising things in John Frankenheimer’s action-thriller Reindeer Games.
(USA, director: John Frankenheimer)
An ex-convict takes on the identity of his former cellmate when released from prison to get to know the girlfriend, but he ends up in a casino robbery plot with her brother.
Ben Affleck isn’t the greatest actor in the world, there’s no denying it, and he certainly has a hard time to portray action heroes. While he doesn’t change this perception in Reindeer Games with often blank facial expressions and forced coolness, it could be worse. The problem is less his acting, but has more to do with the role written for him, as the main character isn’t the most likable in addition to other even less likable ones. Comparing the bad guys to Quentin Tarantino’s memorable personas might be a little bit unfair, but it could have made the movie more enjoyable if one had actual people to relate to.
Problematic characterizations aside, another problem is the plot itself that is too simple to keep suspense or even interest up for over 2 hours. There are a few surprising turns of events, but these only come at the end, which is too late. The action fares a little better, as it’s both brutal and bloody at times, but with too much dialogue in between the exciting parts it falls short. It’s also highly derivative, even if a shoot-out of Santa Clauses is a sight to behold.
What remains is a pseudo-cool action-thriller that could have used more action and thrilling elements in addition to interesting characters and a plot that doesn’t drag along for its runtime. Reindeer Games isn’t a bad movie and it sometimes shows some Christmas spirit, but it’s not a must-see by any means, with way better movies like The Long Kiss Goodnight telling an engaging story with memorable action sequences.
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