And so, Most Dangerous Game ends. It's the second cut-up movie to finish its run on Quibi. It feels odd to review a movie in pieces, but it gives the viewer time to think about the pieces in more detail. Viewers know that likable lunkhead Dodge (Liam Hemsworth) will survive being hunted through the city by some rich assholes. We're curious about how, no matter how dumb or cliched his actions get. The writing is on the level of comic books complete with the hunters all monologuing and practically asking for a mustache to twirl to show how evil they are. But the "what if?' and "how will he win?' factor makes us want to know what happens next. It's no surprise that Quibi says this is one of their most popular shows.
Just Barely Adequate, Though Christoph Waltz is Story MVP
The movie is reasonably entertaining, even when it's irritating or bad or problematic (like the scene with the stereotype black drug gang that's just there to get gunned down). What annoys me most about Quibi's shows is that the best ones still aren't good. They only aspire to be just barely good enough. The story could have been a more interesting commentary about Late Capitalism and the gig economy, like being paid to be hunted by rich assholes is the ultimate unfair gig, but it left that opportunity on the table. The one bright spot in the whole movie is Christoph Waltz's subtly subversive performance. Waltz plays Miles Sellers as a service industry manager having to please both his clients and keeping his employees pepped. He seems to genuinely like people, including Hemsworth, even if he set him up to take the job.
Waltz's Sellers is a nice guy who just has no morals but an ethical code. When he has Hemsworth's wife grabbed, there's actual ambiguity that he's not just taking her hostage but also to keep her safe because she could derail everything and get herself killed. When she slaps him, there's that flash of anger in his eyes, not out of spite but at the indignity. His look says "I'm trying to help you here! I'm just doing my job!" Waltz's performance nearly subverts the whole movie. All his lines are generic and could be played in any way. Waltz plays them as humanly and as warmly as possible. He becomes the most likable – and least stereotypical – character in the story – and he makes a living by running a game where people are hunted for sport!
The Most Dangerous Game Could Be Termite Art
The artist and film critic Manny Farber described "termite art" as low art that transcends their genre tropes and clichés. In B movies, it could be a genuinely surprising moment, a different treatment of the story, or an actor's performance that changes the meaning of the story. Waltz's performance nearly subverts Most Dangerous Game because he plays Sellers as a person instead of a villain trope. Damn, is this movie actually more interesting than it really is? Imagine this movie recut to remove most of the hunt scenes. It becomes a satirical office drama about Waltz managing the game from his office and keeping both the clients and Dodge on the up-and-up. That might be a more interesting drama to watch.