Director John Frankenheimer’s Reindeer Games (aka Deception) is a festive thriller starring Ben Affleck as an ex-con forced into robbing a casino at Christmas dressed as Santa Claus.
Frankenheimer’s film makes the most of film’s desolate and snowy Canadian landscapes and there are a few fun lines scattered amongst the gritty and often brutal action sequences.
Aside from Affleck, Reindeer Games features a stellar supporting cast – Gary Sinise, Charlize Theron, Dennis Farina, Danny Trejo, Isaac Hayes and Donal Logue. The screenplay was written by Ehren Kruger, the writer of Scream 3, Arlington Road, Dumbo and Top Gun: Maverick.
Reindeer Games was John Frankenheimer‘s final theatrical release. His last film was 2002’s Path To War, a HBO drama focusing on the Vietnam War from the perspective of United States President, Lyndon B. Johnson (Michael Gambon) and his White House staffers. Frankenheimer was scheduled to direct the ill-fated Exorcist: The Beginning but was replaced by Paul Schrader before production began. He died from a stroke due to complications following spinal surgery in July 2002, aged 72.
Originally set to be released in December 1999, reshoots and re-edits delayed Reindeer Games‘ US theatrical release until February 2000 – a ridiculous time to release a festive themed thriller. It was remanded Deception in the United Kingdom.
Budgeted at $42 million, Reindeer Games grossed just $23.3 million at the US box office and $32.1 million worldwide.