Reindeer Games 2001 ***

There’s a black Christmas in store for everyone in John Frankenheimer’s final cinematic release, a grungy thriller that found little favour with audiences or critics, but has considerable virtues as a B Movie. Ex-con Rudy Duncan (Ben Affleck) takes on the identity of his cell-mate Nick (James Frain) when he’s killed in a prison riot, but when he comes out of the slammer, his new persona leads Rudy to get involved with a casino heist organized by Gabriel (Gary Sinese), whose sister Ashley (Charlize Theron) was writing to Nick in jail. The casino raid itself, with the robbers dressed as Santa Claus, has a considerable bloody punch, and even if the cast seem over-qualified for the low-rent action, Reindeer games has a stark, memorably downbeat quality to it.


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