Ripley's Game

on September 09, 2004 by Rachel Deahl
Based on Patricia Highsmith's third novel in the Tom Ripley series, this smart thriller offers up another examination of the irresistible anti-hero initially brought to the screen by Matt Damon in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Picking up with the character some 15 years after he came into his own as a con man extraordinaire, a journey that Anthony Minghella chronicled so astutely in his 1999 film, Ripley is now a seasoned and wealthy crook living an unusual domestic existence in Italy.

Played vivaciously by John Malkovich, Tom has matured into an assured, bitingly sarcastic renaissance man who plays househusband to his young Italian wife (Chiara Caselli). A strange hybrid of 007 and Hannibal Lecter, this elder incarnation of Ripley has evolved from the sexually confused, awkward youth Damon personified. Older, wiser and wealthier, Malkovich's cultured bad boy is the perfect villain: He acts without fear or almost any hint of conscience.

Lazing around his palatial estate, Ripley decides to involve his bitter neighbor Jonathan Trevanny (Dougray Scott), a young, cancer-stricken family man, in a murderous game for the benefit of a slimy former associate (Ray Winstone) but moreso for his own amusement. He manipulates Jonathan into acting as a cold-blooded assassin, wiping out members of the Russian mafia, but, realizing that the ill-equipped father and husband is in over his head, Ripley ends up helping his patsy out of a strange sense of obligation, unlikely friendship and boredom.

Ripley's Game" is an unusually smart entry into the thriller/mystery genre. While the actual chase is somewhat flat, Malkovich's biting one-liners coupled with his layered portrayal of this deviant, hopelessly fun character makes this a more than memorable experience.

Starring John Malkovich, Dougray Scott and Ray Winstone.

Directed and written by Liliana Cavini.

Produced by Simon Bosanquet, Ileen Maidel and Riccardo Tozzi.

A Fine Line release. Drama/Thriller.

Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality.

Running time: 110 min

Tags: John Malkovich, Dougray Scott, Ray Winstone, Directed and written by Liliana Cavini, Produced by Simon Bosanquet, Ileen Maidel, Riccardo Tozzi, A Fine Line release, Drama/Thriller, Russian, strange, boredom, friendship, mystery

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