Reindeer Games

Rated: R
Stars:  Ben Affleck, Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron

It must be just as hard for older directors to find good work as it is for older actors because I sure would have expected better from John Frankenheimer. And whoever decided that Ben Affleck is leading-man material should be shot at point blank range.

Affleck’s a lightweight without discernable charisma or talent. Here he plays Rudy Duncan, a guy in the slammer, Michigan’s Iron Mountain Penitentiary, for theft. His cellmate is Nick (James Frain) who’s got the hots for penpal Ashley (Charlize Theron). Both are getting out in a matter of days right in time for Christmas and all Rudy can think of is a cup of hot cocoa and a slice of pecan pie. Nick’s hanging on for Ashely. But tough luck finds Nick and only Rudy gets out. When Rudy spots the forlorn Ashley waiting for her dream man outside the prison gate, Rudy decides to pretend he’s Nick and have a happy Christmas after all.

All’s well until her lunatic brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) discovers them playing house in a hotel room. It seems Gabriel wants Nick (aka Rudy) to help him and his gang of dopey losers (Donal Logue as Pug, Clarence Williams III as Merlin, Danny Trejo as Jumpy) to rob a local Indian Casino that he, Nick, supposedly worked for. Watch Rudy try to squirm his way out of this one and still keep face with Ashley. When he finds out that the goons have never actually robbed anything, Rudy tries to bluff his way to freedom and when that doesn’t work, run like hell.

Maybe it’s the frigid barren landscape, or the frigid acting skills of Affleck or it could be the lousy B-movie atmosphere throughout, but this is a complete drag. This is the kind of picture that Theron should have been in when she was an up and coming starlet who’d do anything for a chance to act – why, even take her top off!. This stinks and so does Theron for doing it.

Lotta says pooh on the lot of them.