Devastated, Van Orton suicidally jumped off the multi-story building to his death (! He crashed through two sets of skylight glass and onto a giant air-filled bag-mattress with an 'X' target in the middle.
After the fall and the breakaway glass was cleared, he opened his eyes and realized that he was experiencing the start of his own birthday party thrown by his living brother Conrad.
A grand ballroom was filled with guests, applauding him and celebrating his special day - on the 20th of October.
Conrad was holding up a T-shirt: "I WAS DRUGGED AND LEFT FOR DEAD IN MEXICO - AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS STUPID T-SHIRT." Van Orton spoke briefly with his ex-wife, and greeted others, and then split the expensive bill for the experience with Conrad.
The 'game' was composed of an unpredictable series of increasingly life-changing events, causing him to paranoically ask: "Is it real or not?
" He wondered: "I'm being toyed with by a bunch of depraved children." Along the way, he met up with his brother who exclaimed about CRS: "They just f--k you, and they f--k you, and they f--k you.
" He promised his brother: Van Orton promised that he would contact CRS, though added: "I hate surprises." He ventured to the 14th floor of the high-rise building on Montgomery Street in SF, to enter CRS' secretive offices, where he was greeted by Jim Feingold (James Rebhorn), VP of Engineering and Data Analysis. He didn't know that he had already started to play the increasingly-elaborate "game." When he drove to his SF home-mansion (actually Filoli in Woodside, CA) that night, Van Orton discovered a life-sized wooden harlequin clown or doll lying in his driveway (in the same position his father had died).
He was told he had contracted for an intriguing game - "Specifically tailored for each participant. At the end of its long cloth tongue was a key marked CRS.
Think of it as a great vacation - except you don't go to it, it comes to you... Daniel Schorr (Himself), the anchor on the evening news, talked to him through the TV set and called him "a bloated millionaire fat-cat." And little things began to aggravate him - a leaky pen in his shirt pocket, a jammed lock on his briefcase, and a messy collision with a waitress named Christine (Deborah Kara Unger) - who was subsequently fired.
At first, he thought the incidents were only a series of "elaborate pranks." However, the ultimate object and purpose of the game became a life/death threatening proposition.
She was staked down with tent pegs and ropes, spread-eagled, mock-raped (there was no semen found and after tests, no sign of rape), and strangled in the middle of a training compound field for urban warfare training.
During the initial investigation, Brenner met with the base's Provost Marshal Colonel William Kent (Timothy Hutton) and the general's overprotective adjutant Colonel George Fowler (Clarence Williams III).
She counter-invited him to join her for coffee at the airport - the film's final line: "Would you like to have a coffee with me at the airport?