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Reindeer Games (2000, Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron)

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Car thief Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) shares his penitentiary cell with Nick (James Frain), a quiet prisoner who survives his ordeal by thinking of his pen pal Ashley (Charlize Theron), who he is set to meet when released. But after a riot in which Nick helps defend his cellmate, the youngster gets his wish and leaves jail – in a body bag, giving Rudy the chance to assume his identity and begin a passionate affair with Ashley.

Her brother Gabriel (Gary Sinise) is interested in Nick’s former occupation at a Michigan casino, and plans to rob the establishment using the insider’s knowledge. Rudy owns up to his deception but realising he will be killed, decides to continue with his alias. However, with the heist imminent, Rudy realises he’s not the only one with a secret, and bides his time knowing that Ashley and Gabriel have plans for him, unaware that someone else will soon determine the future for all of them…

It should have been a Vin Diesel adventure, but the blockhead beefcake (hot from Saving Private Ryan ) played the diva and was shown the door. In stepped Affleck to head up the $42 million caper movie and demonstrate there was life beyond Kevin Smith or Matt Damon. He doesn’t blow it, showing unexpected menace and, when denouncing Ashley, thriving with lines like ‘I had better sex in prison’. Sinise gives another superior performance and Theron shows genuine depth (as with The Astronaut’s Wife) in a difficult role.

production details
USA | 124 minutes | 2000

Director: John Frankenheimer
Script: Ehren Kruger

cast
Ben Affleck as Rudy Duncan
Gary Sinise as Gabriel Mercer
Charlize Theron as Ashley Mercer
Dennis Farina as Jack Banks
Donal Logue as Pug
Danny Trejo as Jumpy
Isaac Hayes as Zock
James Frain as Nick Cassidy
Dana Stubblefield as The Alamo
Mark Acheson as Mean Guard
Tom Heaton as Ugly Staffer
Michael Sunczyk as Distant Inmate #1
Douglas Arthurs as Distant Inmate #2
Dean Wray as Guard #1
Ron Sauvé as Guard #2
Ron Jeremy as Prisoner #1
Hrothgar Mathews as Exit Guard
Clarence Williams III as Merlin
Ashton Kutcher as College Kid

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