Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 16, 2022)
Despite a global pandemic, apparently nothing will halt Bruce Willis’s quest to act in more direct-to-video features than anyone else on the planet. His latest salvo in this battle: 2021’s Survive the Game.
Police Detective David Watson (Willis) pursues a drug bust. However, this gets violent and leaves him injured.
David’s partner Cal (Swen Temmel) chases assailants Frank (Michael Sirow) and Violet (Kate Katzman) to a farm owned by Eric (Chad Michael Murray), a man haunted by a tragic car accident that killed his wife and young daughter. There Cal and Eric plan to defend themselves against the baddies, a task that becomes more complex when the gangsters bring in reinforcements.
Though Willis gets second billing for Game and a prominent spot on the Blu-ray’s cover, one should not expect to see much of him in the movie. As mentioned at the start, Willis loves him some direct-to-video thrillers, and he especially loves those that demand as few working days as possible.
Into this category falls Game, a film that barely features the actor. I suspect Willis devoted one day to this flick – and maybe not even one full day, as his role spends so little time on screen that he might’ve only gone in front of the camera over his lunch break on another film.
It doesn’t help that Game will offer a serious case of déjà vu for aficionados of Willis’s direct-to-video oeuvre. In 2020, Willis and Murray starred in a movie about another injured party and another siege, one titled – wait for it - Survive the Night.
The same actors appear in a movie with a similar scenario and an almost identical title – seriously? Didn’t anyone involved with Game think that maybe – just maybe – they should give it a different title to at least differentiate it somewhat from Night?
I guess that asks too much from the cast and crew behind Game, as all involved seem to want to crank out cheap “movie product” with as little fuss and muss as possible. Not a scintilla of creativity or actual cinematic inspiration appears in this trite piece of fluff.
Game alternates between meat and potatoes “siege thriller” and whacked-out True Romance-style campy violent romp. It fails to satisfy in either regard, as it becomes a mess of annoying characters and cliché action flick shenanigans
Can I find anything positive to say about Game? At a little under 97 minutes, it didn’t waste too much of my time.
Thus ends the “faint praise” aspect of the review. Nothing good comes of this dull, uninspired action tale.