Like his novels, Don DeLillo’s screenplay for this Michael Hoffman drama is logjammed with colliding ideas and his trademark dense, descriptive sentences: A man isn’t just a man, he is someone who “sits in a small, dark apartment eating soft, white bread.” Playwright Nicky Rogan (Keaton) won’t simply suffer a thrashing on opening night by a notorious theater critic (Downey) whose reviews disintegrate careers. As one of the Major League masochists known as Boston Red Sox fans, Rogan has to watch his beloved team play its legendarily disastrous 1986 World Series game on the same evening. Meanwhile, he’s getting carted around in taxis driven by every conceivable ethnic minority and stuck in traffic—which, the film’s apocalyptic radio announcer suggests, symbolizes a vague around-the-corner Armageddon.
The problem is that while DeLillo’s postmodernist flights are wondrous on the page, they need more than a merely functional film director to coordinate them into a cinematically sound Big Picture. Every supporting character is some sort of oracle spouting instant wisdom, and even competent actors like Keaton—or consistently amazing ones like Downey—can’t turn the author’s labyrinthine lines into speakable dialogue. Game 6’s flaw isn’t that it’s ambitious to a fault so much as hopelessly tangled in its own verbosity. Unable to properly support DeLillo’s dizzying use of language, the film literally talks itself into its own downward spiral. (Opens Fri; Regal Union Square 14.)—David Fear