Quibi has launched, and now we get to see if it will be a roaringly-successful game-changer to the streaming world or another attempt at "recreating the wheel" that fails. The latest version of The Most Dangerous Game is a flagship title. Richard Connell's 1924 short story might be the most filmed thriller of all time, often without the title. The idea of a man being hunted for sport by rich bastards carries a limitless appeal. There have been at least 14 movies with that plot since the first adaptation in 1932. John Woo's Hard Target did that with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Even the recent Blumhouse movie The Hunt uses that premise for political commentary and satire.
Quibi's version is an update of the original to 2020 set in Detroit. It's written by Scott Elder, Josh Harmon, and Nick Santora, and directed by Phil Abraham. It's really a movie that Quibi chopped up into 8-minute chunks. It does nothing to use the Quibi "quick bite" dynamic of short serialized segments watched on a phone. Liam Hemsworth plays a man deep in debt with a suspiciously contrived terminal illness you only find in B movies who needs money for his pregnant wife. Christophe Waltz plays the rich man who talks him into becoming the target for some rich assholes to hunt through the city over a 24-hour period. Each hour he survives earns him more money.
Most Dangerous Game is Also a Boring One
You'd think a serialized story told in 8-minute chunks would hit the ground running to keep the viewer hooked but this production does no such thing. The first four segments waste time to set up the story in the most boring way – with awful expositionary dialogue explaining everything. This is the type of terrible TV dialogue where one person tells the other person who they are. It's "you're my best friend, remember when we went through all that stuff?" dialogue that every screenwriting class teaches you not to write.
There is no action in the first four segments. Just talk, talk, talk. The first segment shows Hemsworth meeting Waltz, who tells him he knows about his debts and fatal illness, and the game. The second segment is an unbelievably boring chapter that sets up Hemsworth's clichéd and dull life, his dull pregnant wife and his best friend who's there to tell us he's his best friend. Oh, and to establish the diagnosis of his fatal illness, which we were already told about in the opening segment!
Hemsworth struggles nobly as Dodge, the stoical hero. He also has to put up with the most clunkingly dumb name for the hero. The screenwriters seem to think to name the hero "Dodge" is very clever. The only saving grace is Christoph Waltz, who plays the industrialist behind the game with a cheerfully amiable twinkle. He makes the characters' amorality look like the most reasonable thing in the world. He would be entertaining describing why burning all the cats on the planet was perfectly reasonable, even fun! No, he doesn't say all the cats in the world should be set on fire, but that would have been more interesting than the clichés littered all over the script. At of the fourth segment, at minute 30, the hunt barely starts. Hemsworth and Waltz have barely finished talking.
Quibi has given this movie a higher profile than it deserves. Without Quibi, it would have vanished into VOD obscurity and then one of the streaming services. I watched it in landscape mode because it's a damn movie. It should be seen like a movie, not a vertical screen with nothing but close-ups. That might lend it some novelty but would have made it even more tedious than it already is. This does nothing to persuade me that Quibi has any reason to exist alongside all the other streaming services.