Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams) are an ultra-competitive couple whose weekly game nights are disrupted by Max’s older, more successful brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler). He offers to hold a different sort of game night at his mansion in the hills. Things take a turn for the kidnappy, however, when Brooks is abducted by a pair of men, leaving Max, Annie, and their friends to try and work out what’s part of the game and what isn’t.
There are some clumsy early scenes featuring Jesse Plemons as a creepy, divorced neighbour which don’t bode well, but the laugh count soon begins to rise as the characters become more involved in the criminal underworld. There are brilliant payoffs to running jokes about fight clubs and Denzel Washington, and the film even manages to deliver a new take on the removing-a-bullet-from-your-arm scene. Bateman (playing completely to type) and McAdams (playing completely against type) both give fun, likeable performances, with Lamorne Morris and Sharon Horgan standing out amongst the supporting cast.
Despite being first and foremost a comedy, Game Night also works as a legitimate thriller, thanks to some solid direction by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein. Early establishing shots give the impression that houses and cars are nothing more than pieces on a board, and there is an impressive one-take sequence featuring the frantic handover of a Faberge egg. The plot also takes some surprising twists towards the end which wouldn’t feel out of place in a David Fincher film. There are a fair few jokes that don’t land, but as a fun, action-packed comedy that isn’t afraid to go to some dark and gritty places for its humour, Game Night delivers the goods.