Reindeer GamesFebruary 25, 2000
After assuming his dead cellmate's identity to get with his girlfriend, an ex-con finds himself the reluctant participant in a casino heist.
Release Year: 2000
Rating: 5.5/10 (19,881 voted)
Critic's Score: 37/100
Stars: Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron
After being imprisoned for six years on a grand theft auto charge, Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) and his cellmate Nick (James Frain) are finally going to be paroled. After hearing endless stories during his incarceration of Nick's romantic correspondence to a woman named Ashley he has never met (Charlize Theron), Rudy is looking forward to returning to his family and having a fresh cup of hot chocolate. When Nick is killed during a prison riot, Rudy decides to assume Nick's identity upon release from prison and meet up with the unknown woman. Burdened with a base knowledge of Nick's Indian casino employment past, Rudy finds himself in too deep with Ashley's brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) and is violently forced to cooperate with a casino robbery that Gabriel and his gang have been planning with Nick in mind.
Distant Inmate #1
Distant Inmate #2
(as Douglas H. Arthurs)
(as Ron Sauve)
(as Ron Hyatt)
Clarence Williams III
The trap is set. The game is on.
Release Date: 25 February 2000
Filming Locations: Lion's Gate Studios, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $8,128,356
(27 February 2000)
(18 June 2000)
Did You Know?
is the convict that stabs Rudy's friend in the prison scene.
When Rudy (Ben Affleck) is trying to hot wire the car you can see the ignition is in the "on" position. Plus the car could not be taken out of "park" without the key being unlocked.
I read your letters, convict. Don't play no reindeer games with me.
I can imagine the pitch for "Reindeer Games" being thrown at the execs
behind the picture…
"Okay, it's about this guy, who's not who he says he is, who everybody
thinks he is, who fools these guys who thinks he is, falls in love with
girl who thinks he is, even though he isn't, and they try to pull a heist
with his expertise, even though he has none."
Nick (Ben Affleck) has just been released from jail for defending his
girlfriend in a fight prior to being thrown into the slammer. Upon his
release, a long-time pen pal named Ashley (Charlize Theron) greets him
they immediately hit the sack. However, her brother (Gary Sinise) wants
to help them pull a heist on Christmas Eve at a local Indian casino,
is run by a money hungry wannabe (Dennis Farina). Her brother kidnaps
holds a gun to his head and commands him to draw up a sketch of the
points in the casino, since he used to work there and knows all there is
know about the casino. There is one minor detail, however, that may
Nick is not Nick.
Nick is really a car jacker who overheard his jail cellmate, Nick,
his letters from a penpal named Ashley aloud. Nick was killed before his
release in the jail cafeteria, and so Nick took his identity so that he
could meet up with the infamous Ashley he kept hearing about, forming a
mental picture of her in his head.
If you stop to take the time and think through all the minor details of
film's plot (especially given the "twist" ending), you'll probably arive
upon the conclusion that it's all a bunch of bull. It simply doesn't make
sense if you really take the time to think it through.
If you don't put your brain to work, however, you'll find yourself having
fun watching director John Frankenheimer's last film. Frankenheimer was a
talented director, the man behind such films as "The Manchurian
"Seconds" and "Ronin." His last feature was one of his most stylish and
brutal, fast-paced, funny, and often just fun to sit through.
Gary Sinise ("Forrest Gump," "Ransom") is his usual villainious self,
the real surprise comes from actress Charlize Theron, who switches
a lot through the film, especially towards the end, and is a real beauty
delight to watch. She's the film's high point, and though people
the plot, I found "Reindeer Games" mildly inventive with its shifting
and turns, even if they aren't always so believable.
The film's downfall is its ending, which feels as if the filmmakers got
caught up in all their twists and turns and unconsciously wrote
into a wall, then suddenly slapped on a cheesy, cliched ending with a
sentimental good guy closing scene. It's rushed, silly, and doesn't fit
with the rest of the film.
Irregardless of its uncountable flaws, "Reindeer Games" (or "Deception"
it is called in the UK) is a fun film, John Frankenheimer's final movie.
"Reindeer Games" is often linked as Frankenheimer's long-time dream
much like Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America." Like a dying
final words, perhaps it conveyed some hidden meaning to Frankenheimer.
maybe everyone was wrong. Maybe "Reindeer Games" is nothing but another
Frankenheimer film, this one not as good as most of his
But "Rosebud" didn't mean anything to anyone except Charles Foster Kane.
Maybe "Reindeer Games" meant something to John Frankenheimer. However, as
anyone who has ever seen "Citizen Kane" probably knows, it's not likely
we'll ever find out what it means, even if we try.
3/5 stars. Enjoyable if you don't put your brain to work.
– John Ulmer