Overview and Summary
With the film opening on a group of old cut separate happy scenes of a boy’s childhood paves the way to our mind to realize the psychological theme the film events revolve around. Afterwards, moving to present by showing that these disorganized scenes are in the mind of our man while washing face. Then in the middle of the scenes we go back to his dad’s suicide scene throwing himself from the top of their house. Childhood memories haunt him constantly starting from the moment he opens his eyes till he falls asleep, all his life regardless of his prestigious position and being a widely wealthy man. .
The film pertains to the thriller mental genre. It is written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, directed by David Fincher and produced by Propaganda Films.
It presents the kind of life a person can live with different childhood shocks in spite of all the progress they achieve whether in wealth or any other positive aspect and no matter how long time passes by, and the tough way it can cost them to get healed. The hero here Mr. Nicolas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a wealthy investment banker who lives an ultimate luxurious life but alone, left by his ex-wife for his weird personal traits. His brother is aware of his psychological issues and wants to get him out of all this and get him healed. Consequently, he recommends a company providing consumer recreation services through a game. He encounters many confusing pranks related to the game and at some point, he believes he fell in a trap of a fraud company as he finds himself haunted, buried and ran out of all his wealth. Events go on till he discovers the great surprise.
The plot is somehow unpredictable and original. The point of involving in a game of life experience through enrollment in a company specialized in providing this sort of services is kind of weird and new. Besides, it is full of twists; for instance, our man is informed he is refused, and suddenly he starts facing the game of surprises. Then his brother makes him think he is their victim and Christine tells him his bank account is evacuated. He kills his brother by mistake, then all of this seems to be a huge prank. If the writer called the film The Prank”, that would be the exact right name. Pranks are everywhere and everything has more than a truth leading to doubt in everything. The plot is well directed and thrilling.
The film opening on some cut memory scenes of a childhood is a very good way to provide information about the root cause of Van’s sufferings, fears and insecurities, and demonstrate his constant overthinking about it all the time by showing a scene from the past every while throughout the movie.
The rising action of Van’s nervous breakdown leading to killing his brother (Sean Penn) introduces us to the climax when Van decides to throw himself from above the high building repeating his dad’s suicide scene, but this time the prank is with us as we discover, along with Van, there is a huge pillow receiving him and all his friends and brother waiting for him at the bottom. His brother explains the reason and shows how profound experience it was and congratulating him for his 48th birthday, the same age his father committed the suicide. All celebrate together happily and the end is with Van and Claire's final scene.
Characters and Dialogues
Characters were convincing. Michael Douglas played it calmly but surely. Deborah was witty and nice.
Dialogues were developed naturally and logically with no protraction. Scenes were well played by actors and well shot by the cinematographer. And the director moved from every prank and deception scene to the next smoothly. In addition, he moved between the present and past scenes very easily.
I would recommend watching this film especially if you like mental games and mysteries. It targets your mind. It is not to be missed especially for the plot twists lovers, creating that type of twist using the big deal of pranks and mental deception. In my opinion, on a scale from zero to five, I would give it 4.