About The Production
Director John Frankenheimer has always loved the mechanics of suspense — the treachery, chases, hairpin curves, confused identities and moral dilemmas that set the thriller apart. With REINDEER GAMES, he puts a playful new twist to these elements, adding a touch of cool humor as he explores the outrageous anatomy of a crime gone awry -- and the darkly comical story of an ex-con trying to redeem himself right in the middle of a robbery he doesn't want to commit.
The setting for this heated wry thriller is the icy fringes of Northern Michigan, where convict Rudy Duncan, a guy who was never much for the holidays, is about to be taken on the dizzying winter ride of his life. Upon his release from jail, Rudy's dreams for a new start and a peaceful holiday crash into Ashley, the alluring Detroit beauty whom he came to know through pen pal letters in prison. Suddenly, Rudy's passage home takes a detour — into a cunningly devised trap from which he must try to escape.
Used to taking the easy way out, this time Rudy has a difficult choice: either succumb to his criminal ways again or fight Gabriel and his gang by using their own tricks against them. Rudy becomes the Artful Dodger, ready to try anything to escape from a merry band of would-be robbers.
The intriguing premise of REINDEER GAMES came from the imagination of screenwriter Ehren Kruger, who once upon a gloomy winter envisioned an action thriller about love, redemption and prior convictions. Kruger added fire to his winter-time story with snappy dialogue, intricate plotting and a wry, amusing take on low-life criminals pursuing their own nefarious holiday plans. In the offbeat
world he created, seemingly commonplace events — an ex-con going home for the holidays, a romantic meeting, a casino Christmas — are turned on their heads.
Kruger was inspired by the idea that prisoners and criminals have holidays too — albeit unconventional ones. "I wanted to write a story that deals with a time that is generally joyous for the law abiding world out there, but for a criminal is filled with all kinds of opportunities to get into trouble," explains Kruger. "I wanted to put a funny and different twist on the noir thriller."
Kruger decided to place at the center of his tightly wound plot an old- fashioned hold-up. With a modern touch of mayhem, his script unveils the crafty planning stages of the robbery, the non-stop excitement of the job itself, and then the unexpected aftermath — keeping it fresh with a slew of salty, sometimes comically inept characters.
He also set the story in a rarely seen corner of American gambling: the Indian tribe-owned casino. "It's an interesting environment that really hasn't been seen before on screen," notes Kruger. "But I was fascinated by the idea that these casinos are cropping up in all states of the country, bringing the potential for big-money crime out of Vegas to smaller towns and smaller criminals."
Throughout, Kruger kept the northern weather as one of the film's most shadowy and devious characters. "The weather is like another character fighting against Rudy," says Kruger. "From the moment he gets out of jail, the more he tries to escape the snow and bleakness, the more it follows him around, making everything that much more slippery.
When the script was completed, Kruger was thrilled to hear that John
Frankenheimer, renowned for his coolly sophisticated thrillers and fresh from the success of "Ronin," was considering it as his next project. "Anyone who writes movies knows what John Frankenheimer has contributed to the art form, so it was an incredible honor for me," says Kruger. "1 thought he was perfect for this kind of story: a story with m
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