Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor
Michael C. Hall
What's it about
Set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environments, a star player from a game called "Slayers" looks to regain his independence while taking down the game's mastermind.
Is it good movie?
Let me get this off my chest: I think that Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are directors with an awesome future and a great couple of films under their belts. I dig Crank a lot and I thought that Crank 2 was one of the best films I'd seen in 2009. Their filmmaking style is ballsy, edgy, in your face and unrelenting. I thought both Crank and Crank 2 were just hilarious, ridiculous and pure entertainment.
With that being said, I didn't like Gamer very much at all. When I saw the trailer for it, I was mildly pumped when I saw that it was by Neveldine/Taylor. The concept is Death Race without cars and Gerry Butler is kicking ass like only Gerry Butler can. I walked into the theater expecting a stupid movie where I could kick back and engage in some serious escapism. I was way off, to my chagrin.
My biggest problem with this movie is that it doesn't really work as an action movie and it doesn't really work as social commentary. I mean, you get action, but it just isn't enough. The plot is pretty much what you'd expect but it gets bogged down by wasting so much time talking about the 'society' game, which is a literal translation of the Sims. Of course, Kable's real-life wife is trapped inside the game and he has to find a way to cut ties with his annoying teenager who is controlling him so he can kill evil Dexter, the creator of this business.
As I mentioned before, the whole thing didn't work for me. The movie spends so much time on the 'revolution' trying to un-brainwash us stupid, fat (really, really fat), reality-loving people back to life and it's not very compelling. Gerry Butler does a good job in his role, but he's not memorable at all. It just seems like he's sleepwalking. Even Dexter (Michael C. Hall, for those not watching one of the greatest shows on TV right now) just doesn't have much to do. He speaks with a jerk accent and really only becomes a prominent figure around the end of the movie but aside from his cool and strange dance number, the character is just a figurehead.
This isn't to say that this movie is completely awful. A couple of the folks I watched it with thought it was alright. The flashy directorial style is present in full-force, with awesome visuals and fantastic art direction. The movie is just oozing with style and coolness but hell, if you dress up your taco with all the fixings and forget the meat, people are going to be pissed.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen and looks really sharp.
Audio is Dolby 5.1 and it sounds wonderful too.
First up is an Audio Commentary with Filmmakers and Cast Members which is pretty weird. Neveldine and Taylor just spend the whole time laughing and joking around while Terry Crews and Amber Valletta get a few words in. It's entertaining, and you might learn something but don't expect the usual stuff.
For real information, turn to Inside the Game: Controlling Gamer, an 80(!) minute documentary which really gives you the meat. This one is again hosted by the directors and they come off like humble and thankful guys who really know what makes a movie work. This one is a great exercise in showing how to stretch a budget.
You also get a 17 minute long featurette called First Person Shooter: The Evolution of RED, which is all about the RED One Digital Camera used on this film. It's really interesting but at times feels like a plug for the thing. Still a cool featurette though.
Finally, a trailer for Gamer.
I won't lie, this movie isn't my cup of tea. I was expecting another fun movie like Crank but instead found myself almost bored at times. The social commentary thing fell really flat with me and I found the acting talent was slightly underused. If you love movies like Death Race and The Running Man, you should watch those first, then watch this one. As a fan of N/T, you should check this out too, but be wary!