The title begins to take on new meaning the further you get into the story, because it's quickly revealed that things are not as they seem. And that's as much true for the viewer as it is the main character. Fincher and the writers are constantly and intentionally messing with the audience, employing misdirection and red herrings to throw you off the scent. Or are they? Because just when you're convinced deception is the rule of the day, some events and conversations begin to revel themselves to be exactly how they were presented, and nothing more. Nicholas is in the same mental boat, and begins to lose his mind between what is real and what is illusion, a division that could prove fatal if misjudged. It's as much a convenient trick within the film as it is an overall comment on movie trickery, and how we willingly embrace (and even seek out) manipulation.
But on yet another angle, The Game plays as a dark spiritual parable, somewhere between Blade Runner and The Pilgrim's Progress. Without revealing too much of the journey, there are religious overtones all along the way, with almost dream-like allusions to the dark night of the soul. The detached figure of Nicolas at the beginning of the film is almost a caricature of emotional and spiritual decay - a hollowed out husk born of success at the expense of love and empathy - and we know he has to change during the course of the tale, either toward redemption or ruin. And the further the story progresses we realize that one is just as likely to occur as the other.
The Criterion Collection is known for mixing up its repertoire of film releases between classics from by-gone years, films from foreign auteurs, and the occasional "Hollywood" film (which hopefully can also sell enough to keep the lights on at Criterion HQ long enough to release more classic and foreign offerings). These less obscure titles often seem like the riskier move, and more open to derision by elitist fans, perhaps because they can't accept that "serious" films can also be enjoyed by the popcorn-munching masses. I think The Game helps disprove that snobbery, and partly because Fincher doesn't seem to view the two options - art versus commerce - as incompatible, or the potential audiences they could attract as being that different. He seems to have a higher respect for mainstream viewers, frankly, and rewards them with both brisk escape and something to chew on later. Hitchcock also successfully bridged that apparent divide, time and again, just as Fincher continues to do now.
Video / Audio
The Game makes its long awaited transition to high-definition. Was the wait worth it? Well, it was quite lengthy... But yes. The picture is near flawless, and showcases just how immaculately Fincher and director of photography Harris Savides crafted this film. Although much of the film is shrouded in low light and shadows, there are flashes of color everywhere, and everything from claustrophobic blacks (which might not be "inky", but they're pretty close) to harsh daylight is accurately rendered, with light grain left intact. In fact, the only hint that this isn't a current-release, direct-from-digital transfer is the inclusion of dated cell phones in a handful of scenes.