Reindeer games Sleighs 'Em

FILM

Reindeer Games

Directed By John Frankenheimer

Starring Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise

Dimension Films

Reindeer Games Sleighs 'Em

By RICHARD HO

CRIMSON STAFF WRITER

I'll be honest. When I first heard about a new Ben Affleck film called Reindeer Games, my initial reaction was: Christmas movie. Keep in mind, I hadn't read the plot summary and this was before I knew that legendary director John Frankenheimer (Manchurian Candidate, Ronin) was at the helm. Given all that, wouldn't you agree that it was an honest reaction? Wouldn't you expect Reindeer Games to be a light-hearted story, filled to the brim with good will and holiday cheer?

A romantic comedy, perhaps?

Then, of course, I read the plot summary and saw John Frankenheimer's name next to "directed by." Thinking back to his previous films, I realized that none of them even came close to falling under the category of "romantic comedy." On the contrary, the director is famous for a long line of dramas and suspense-thrillers, so surely Reindeer Games, billed as another suspense-thriller, would continue the tradition.

If there was any doubt remaining in my mind as I walked into the theater, it was banished forever by the opening scene, which featured the bloody carcass of a dead Santa lying face down in the snow.

Just more proof that you can never judge a movie by its title.

Set in northern Michigan during the holidays, Reindeer Games follows the harrowing chain of events that center around a recently paroled car thief named Rudy (Affleck) who becomes entangled with a beautiful girl named Ashley (Charlize Theron) and her brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise). Gabriel is a disgruntled trucker who plans a casino heist with his buddies on Christmas Eve. He forcefully enlists Rudy, whose experience as a former employee at the casino is vital to the plan's success.