March 13, 2000 12:00 PM

Ben Affleck, Charlize Theron, Gary Sinise

Christmas references abound in Reindeer Games, but no one except the most starved action-movie fans will think of this overwrought thriller as a tardy holiday gift. Affleck, giving almost a parody of an action-hero performance (all steely glances and tough-guy grimaces), plays an ex-con coerced into helping to rob a casino. Guns are fired and there are chases galore, with all the mayhem taking place in forlorn, snow-covered rural Michigan. Sacrificing logic to excessive cleverness, Games’s plot ends up with too many holes to count. What makes all this so disappointing is that Games was directed by John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate), who demonstrated in 1998’s Ronin that he hadn’t lost his touch. He loses it here.(R)

Bottom Line: Not worth playing

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