John Frankenheimer comes off from the heels of the incredibly exciting ‘Ronin’ with one of the best car chases ever to direct a muddled holiday thriller that should’ve checked its release date sooner on the calendar. Affleck plays a car thief mistaken for his prison cell mate and hijacked to teach a band of greasy diner clowns the ins and outs or casino theivin’. The performances are all adequate, though Gary Sinise as the bad trucker seems a little too Deliverance to me at times. The movie permeates with the feeling all the way through that something interesting is building and will pay off, and then it just gives up and goes for a ridiculous and cheap twist ending. Ehren Kruger, the man who threw pot holes of twists in Arlington Road and less effectively in Scream 3, writes like someone finishing a deadline paper for a college class – less about characters and conflicts and more about topsy-turvy twists and double crossings. There are some brief encounters with suspense and excitement (and forgive me but the Santa imagery is kinda’ nifty) but Reindeer Games can never build toward whatever potential it flashed.
Nate’s Grade: C