Theatrical Review: Gamer

In the near future, the biggest things around the world are two video games with a big twist: One is called Society (think of The Sims or Sony’s Life) and the other is Slayers (which is of course any combat game you can think of), the catch is that these games use real people as the avatars for the players playing the game- Slayers using sentenced prisoners and Society using those just in need of a paycheck. Slayers has a further catch though, with the avatar who can survive 30 games getting the chance to go free. Both are the creation of uber-genius Ken Castle, and now right as the star avatar of Slayers, Kable, is near his 30th victory, a terrorist group called Humanz is on the verge of exposing Ken Castle’s terrifying secret for the future…

That’s the premise of Gamer the new movie from the team Neveldine/Taylor (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor) who previously gave us the [i]Crank[/i] movies. I didn’t much care for the first Crank movie (and thus didn’t see the second), but I think Gamer is a hell of a lot better, with lots of violent action, some very good science fiction ideas and a lot of biting satire. Last year, there was a movie, Death Race (which was a lot of fun) that was a re-make of the Roger Corman/Paul Bartel film Death Race 2000 and while it was fun, Gamer actually comes a lot closer to the satire that the original had going for it, while still keeping the thrills of the film.

Neveldine/Taylor’s visual and editing style makes Tony Scott look like a tired old man… I was put off by it in Crank but really think it works well for Gamer. And while there are holes one could see in some aspects of the storyline, I won’t necessarily think that they’re anything to different than what was seen recently in District 9, in other words, there’s enough there that you could write your own explanation if you want, though that’s not necessarily the purpose of the film. Even though at it’s core, it’s a high-adrenaline action film, there’s still some ideas at work here, and as a video-gamer my own self, lots of stuff to chew on. Neveldine/Taylor also wrote the script, and on the gaming end, I think they get a lot of it right, even if they are dealing in extremes.

The cast is pretty decent, headed up by Gerard Butler as Kable, they all handle this pretty earnestly, with the more satirical elements being handled by Kyra Sedgewick as a TV “reporter,” Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle, the creator of the games, and the young actors playing the various gamers controlling the avatars. Hall, who’s best known for the TV series Dexter really looks like he’s having a lot of fun here, playing Castle as, at least to me, like what you’d get if you crossed game developer Cliff Bleszinski with media mogul Ted Turner.

And technically, it really is a good-looking film, and it’s spastic editing style serves the purpose towards the satire of the film. It is extremely violent though, and if that thing turns you off, then you’re forewarned.

I had a real good time with it though, It’s action is very good, there’s some good ideas at work here (though not as entirely fleshed out as they could be) and what I thought lots of good media and gaming satire that’s seems right on the money, and for that, Gamer gets a big recommendation here…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

06. September 2009 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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