Directed by John Frankenheimer.
Written by Ehren Kruger ("Arlington Road").
Starring Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise and Charlize Theron.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 2/25/00
Spring fever is upon us! This evening, upon
returning home from the movie, I was about to write this
review...and, then I got the mail. Whoops! I had three choices at
Write the review.
Read (well, maybe "read" is the wrong
word) the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Figure out if Heidi Klum really does
weigh 100 pounds.
I went with 2), then 3), now 1). This
year's swimsuit issue is partially in 3-D (glasses provided), and it
adds nothing to gratuitous T&A shots, but no matter. Let's talk
about the real issue at hand: Klum. I have decided that all men
can be put into two categories: those that think Heidi Klum is
attractive, and those that don't. I fall into the latter, and her
picture with Evander Holyfield is not just scary, it is terrifying,
as Klum shows off her 5'10", 100-pounds of muscle in a black and
white picture. Wow, is that girl thin! Me, I like 'em thick--if
you could get blown away by strong winds, what good are you going to
be with me?? When a girl tells me "Justin, I think I'm putting on
weight," nothing could turn me on more...when she asks "Am I getting
fat?", I respond "a little thicker means I'm a lot happier!" (I
save the "cushion" jokes for later, capiche?) Now, mind you--I
don't want them at Golden Corral every Friday night, but hey, people
should be eating...and, I like to look at someone and not worry that
they are missing meals.
The magazine's top four, in my mind: Elsa
Benitez, Shakara Ledard (her 3-D is hot), Joumana Kidd, Veronica
Now, Charlize Theron could probably hold her
own against the SI girls in this year's magazine, but when you are
making movie salaries, you don't have time for modeling chump
change. Along with Ben Affleck and Gary Sinise, these three carry
the bulk of "Reindeer Games," a heist thriller directed by "Ronin"-meister
John Frankenheimer. Thankfully, this movie is more "Ronin" than
"The Island of Dr. Moreau," bad in every way that movies can be bad
and another previous effort of Frankenheimer’s. The story involves
a grand-theft-auto convict named Rudy (Affleck) who is two days away
from getting out of prison on parole along with his best friend
Nicky (James Frain). But, when Nicky is stabbed and killed during a
prison riot in the cafeteria, Rudy decides that he should meet up
with Ashley (Theron), a girl that has been Nicky's pen pal for the
last six months, once he gets out on parole. Once he hooks up with
Ashley after his parole, things go south when Rudy comes in contact
with Ashley's brother Gabriel (Sinise) and his gang of gun runners.
Acting the whole time as if he is Nicky, Rudy tries anything he can
to avoid injury as the gang tries to hold up a Michigan casino on
As you can tell from just the description of
all of this, twists and turns are commonplace through the script.
And I must admit, just when I thought I had figured it out,
Frankenheimer flips the tables again. It didn't hurt that the
studio ingeniously uses deleted scenes from the movie in the
trailer--much like the Samuel L. Jackson film "The Negotiator"--so
that you think you know what is going to happen...but, they never
show some of the scenes that you are expecting! But, are surprises
what make a good movie? Unfortunately, no. This movie is painfully
slow in the early-going...really, until Sinise & company show up,
things are rather dry and beyond Sinise, no one is very
interesting. The set-up of the heist isn't even very interesting
and the romantic sub-plot (at least, in the first half of the movie)
is not too hot either.
Ben Affleck has been in a lot of films now,
and it is funny how much he wants to play Ben Affleck in all of his
character portrayals. His character in "Reindeer Games" is a lot
more crafty than some of his past roles, but he looks no different
than he did in Kevin Smith's movies, or "Armageddon" or "Good Will
Hunting" or "Forces of Nature." Maybe he needs to try an accent or
something; just something a little bit out-of-the-ordinary. Or,
something like Gary Sinise: if you take his characters from "Apollo
13" or "Snake Eyes" or "Forrest Gump", you can see that he is
actually acting his way through those films, and he looks pretty cut
in "Reindeer Games." All of those roles make Sinise look different;
Affleck's personality seems to be carrying him through all of his
movies so far. Hopefully, that will change, because even though he
is very likable in "Reindeer Games", you just can't shake the
impression that you've seen him do this *exact same part* in his
And Theron? She's good here, and her role
gives her a lot to do for an action movie. But, overall, the film
just doesn't have the visual impact that "Ronin" did, and although
the scenery here in the Upper Midwest is attractive, it didn't pull
me in since the characters did not do likewise. And, because there
isn't much of a soundtrack (unless you count whistled Christmas
songs), "the dead of winter" is an applicable phrase here. Lots of
characters yelling is left to make up for this, and sometimes the
rage makes sense, but it mostly is the sheer lack of anything to do
that keeps the film from breaking out.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard