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Movie Review -- End Game

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Selby with Angie Harmon from End Game
(T shirt caption says "I've had a difficult few past lives")

With Angie Harmon in End Game

End Game

A Movie Review by JMW

It's a normal average day as security prepares for the appearance of the President at a sporting event. All seems routine; the site is secured, crowds held at a distance. Then from amongst the press comes a man with a newscamera -- who suddenly drops the camera to pull a gun and open fire. The Secret Service jumps into action, tries to block the gunman, but it's too late. The President is already down and later dies in the operating room.

Kate Crawford (Angie Harmon), a reporter who is investigating the assassin meets up with Shakey, a street person (David Selby) at the makeshift memorial at the assassination site. He takes her to where the assassin lived, right next to the van he calls home. When the reporter returns, it's to find that Shakey has died in a mysterious fire.

Shakey's death then other facts that keep turning up convince the reporter that there is a conspiracy. She tracks down Alex Thomas (Cuba Gooding) the Secret Service agent who was shot during the assassination, feeling that he is the only one who can't be involved with this conspiracy.

Thomas, however, at first appearance does not seem able to be much help. On required leave after the shooting, he is spending his time wallowing in drink and guilt, replaying the news tapes of the event over and over. (Personally I feel that this kind of guilt was put across much better by Clint Eastwood in In the Line of Fire.)

Unfortunately, from here on in the movie becomes incredibly predictable, as the two join forces due to an attempt on their lives, and each new lead ends up dead. There is predictable interference from Thomas's bosses, and a far reaching government conspiracy seems to be uncovered. I say seems to be because the ending and motivations for the assassination are very muddled by the end of the film, which might be just a case of VERY bad editing.

It's a shame really, that with a cast like Cuba Gooding, James Woods, Jack Scalia, Anne Archer and Angie Harmon, this movie couldn't have been better. It's hard to place blame, given the incredibly weak and derivative script, but most of the characters seemed one-dimensional. That's always a problem to some extent with action movies, but I'm disappointed that a cast of this caliber could have done a better job of working around that weakness. I've seen all of them in many things before, but in this movie they all just seemed to be playing their stock character, with no real depth of characterization -- or way to differentiate from other similar characters they've played before.

Selby's character Shakey -- or, as he introduces himself "Arthur Fuller" -- was the only character we see with any INTERESTING character quirks. Selby seems to have done a great job with what is essentially a very minor character. The first impression you get of Shakey is that of an elderly hippie who had had at least one VERY bad trip -- and never made it all the way back. Shakey, for whatever reasons (the script implies drink, thus the character's tremors, but has the character claim he doesn't drink) is not quite connected to reality in many ways, though he can reason and understand. Selby handled the balancing act of the now he's lucid now he's not behavior very well. His body language is very defensive as he slumps over, eyes squinting mistrustfully, expecting the worst from any encounter, yet on another level the character has a childlike want for attention and company.

Shakey is scruffy, but not bedraggled (and speaking as a New Yorker who used to work near Times Square, he has GOT to be the CLEANEST looking street person I've EVER seen.) and is pretty decently dressed, down to a pair of bright red high top sneakers which he enjoys showing off. Selby once again does a character voice for this role, a raspy voice like that of a long time smoker or someone with lung damage, and his accent is somewhat different, having more of a southern tinge to it than usual. But it's the characterization that stands out, and makes you wish that this character had been around a bit longer to liven up the proceedings.

In short, unless you are really into conspiracy theory movies, you will find this one lacking. Selby's character appears near the beginning of the movie, so it's possible - and highly recommended -- for one to rent this for his performance, then forget about watching the rest of the movie.

article @July2006 by JMW

Screen caps made by me from End Game@Sony Pictures. These were made for the sole purpose of illustrating this review as allowed under fair use statutes of copyright law.

This website is @2004-2013 by JMW. No original article or photograph may be reprinted in any form without prior written permission from JMW