Directed by Neveldine/Taylor
Starring Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Kyra Sedgwick
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: January, 19, 2010
You know things are bad when the best part of a film based on ultra-violent video games is the dance sequence. However, such is the case with Gamer, which really only gives the viewer what they should expect from a Grand Theft Auto game: an unbelievable plot, half-naked women, and lots of people getting shot. It’s all very generic and blurs together, which is probably why villain Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) lip-syncing and dancing with soldiers he has under mind control is the only scene that stands out in any significant way.
What passes for the plot of Gamer is simple: In the near future, computer genius Castle creates a type of nanomachine that allows someone to remotely control another human being. Why not just use it to take over world? Well, he’s working on it, but first he decides to use his invention to create a real life version of Second Life, when people can pay to control other real humans, who are in turn paid to be “actors” in the game environment. After amassing the largest fortune in the world, Castle creates a second game, “Slayers,” where the players control death row inmates in a Call of Duty-like shooter. The inmates sign up with the promise of freedom… if they win 30 games.
Sound vaguely familiar? That’s because it’s the same basic plot of Death Race and The Condemned. And just like those films, the hero of Gamer isn’t really bad guy, just someone with bad luck… so the audience can sympathize, right? And just like the others, you know he has a wife/kid on the outside too. In this case, Kable (Gerard Butler) has nearly made it to 30 wins, but Castle wants to make sure he doesn’t make it. Unlike the villains in the other films, Castle isn’t content with just being the dickish director of bloodsport, he really does have a plan to take over the world with nanomachines, albeit a massively flawed one.
For a movie clearly marketed at gamers, the writers sure don’t think too highly of them. The controllers are shown to be morbidly obese men controlling sexy female avatars or trashing talking teenagers who act tough from the comfort of their parents luxury penthouses. Everyone who acts as a controller seems devoid of morality, having no problem putting people through sexual abuse or murder.
The DVD includes the usual commentary from cast and filmmakers as well as a making-of documentary and aptly titled featurette “First Person Shooter.” Lastly, the disc contains the trailer, which is not normally worth mentioning except in this case, where the trailer is actually much better than the film as a whole.
I’m all for mindless fun, and Gamer definitely had the potential to be just that. However, the film never really delves into the somewhat thin concept it is based upon and never uses its wide talent pool to the full potential.