Hauer’s feisty leader makes for a joyous villain. He loves the hunt and survival is a sport to him, but his sense of humour remains – he never fails to spit some teasing remarks Ice T’s way. Hauer’s the calm counterpoint to Busey’s frenetic psychologist. Busey explodes on-screen in a tirade of psychobabble, lyrically exposing man’s deepest primal urges. The debris of scattered blonde hair and giant white teeth barely has time to settle before Busey starts once more into another monologue. This time it’s a biographical tale: 8-year-old Busey, still only a child, is forced by his father to fight a bulldog. The mutt prevails for a long time, permanently scarring Busey in the process, before Busey is able to break its neck. For a long time after the story is told, the maniacal glint of Busey’s eyes remains spread across the screen, surviving long into the black of the fade out.
I have no doubt that Busey was just playing himself in this film.
To conclude: Surviving the Game’s slight leftist tendencies are a buoy to my enjoyment. A Wall Street man, a bourgeois psychologist, some CIA-affiliated goons, persist in exploiting a poor man who’s been cast out of society. They look down on him, sneer at his poverty and see in him nothing more than fodder for their games, that is to say, games to them, but to him life and death. Such a political reading is a nice adjunct to the film; however, it is surely the dynamic play of images and Busey that makes the film stand out as a highlight of mid-90s action, to be slotted somewhere between Hard Target and Judgement Night.