Reindeer Games

Director:John Frankenheimer
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Run Time:104 Minutes
Released: February 2000
Main Cast:
Ben Affleck as Rudy Duncan
Gary Sinise as Gabriel Mercer
Charlize Theron as Ashley Mercer
Dennis Farina as Jack Bangs
James Frain as Nick Cassidy


As the movie opens, Rudy Duncan (Affleck) and Nick Cassidy (Frain) are awaiting their release from jail. It is the Christmas season, and the two have been in lockup for six years due to auto theft. Nick has been sending letters back and forth with a girl, Ashley Mercer (Theron), outside of jail and is planning to meet her on the day of his release. Rudy discourages Nick, saying that the girl has probably sent fake pictures and is most likely nothing like what she writes.

However, a few days before his release Nick is killed during a prison riot in the cafeteria. Rudy shows a lot of grief until the scene cuts to him on the prison bus, leaving the prison property. Rudy spots Ashley, alone outside the prison gates, waiting on Nick to show up. Feeling guilty for discouraging Nick, and feeling sorry for Ashley because she doesn't know Nick's dead, Rudy hops off the bus and goes to meet her. Once she sees him, she asks if he is Nick, and in a moment of hesitation, Rudy claims Nick's identity.

Rudy soon learns that Ashley's brother, Gabriel (Sinise), and his gang have been waiting for Nick's release in order to carry out a casino robbery. Nick had been involved in robberies before and had worked at the casino, so he knew quick ins and outs. Rudy finds himself forced to continue to carry on his facade and go on with the robbery.

The team goes into the casino, dressed as Santas and proceed to rob the place blind. After the robbery pulls through, Rudy discovers that Ashley and Gabriel are not who they have claimed to be. He is told that Nick is not dead and has been on the robbery plan all along. They state that they knew that Rudy would claim to be Nick if he thought Nick was out of the picture, so they faked Nick's death in prison. Nick shows back up, coming out of a semi-truck, confirming Ashley and Gabrial's story. Rudy knows he is trapped in this web of lies and crime.

Nick tells Rudy that now that they don't need him anymore, they are going to kill him, just so there is no way he can rat them out. A great fight scene occurs, with Nick and Rudy rolling around high atop a mountain. They go through the classic, punch-punch-battle-for-the-gun fight, which in the end leaves Nick dead. The semi-truck trailer full of money and other stolen goods blows up.

The finale leaves you with the knowledge that Ashley and Gabrial are dead also. Rudy is seen walking through the streets of a town, still dressed in his Santa suit, which is badly torn and tattered, pulling money out of his bag and stuffing it in mailboxes.

While not a bad movie, Reindeer Games isn't one of the greatest. It calls for constant attention, as it weaves its web of lies and crossed identities. The end leaves something to be desired and doesn't quite give closure to the story, however, I still recommend you watch it.


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