PLOT: In the distant future, video games have advanced to the point where players begin controlling actual people. The newest game to feature this technology is called Slayers, where players control death row inmates, who are forced to battle each other to the death- with the promise that once theyve survived thirty sessions, theyll be given pardons. The games reigning champion is an ex-soldier turned inmate- named Kable (Gerard Butler), whos just completed his twenty seventh session. The games creator, a megalomaniacal IT genius named Castle (Michael C. Hall), has no intention of allowing Kable to survive his last few sessions, and Kable must somehow convince his user, a seventeen year old brat named Simon (Logan Lerman) to give him control his own actions- thus allowing him to go free and return to his family.
REVIEW: Basically GAMER is a rehash of the eighties Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, THE RUNNING MAN only instead of satirizing reality TV, this reflects the growing obsession with online multi-player games. When it comes to video games, I must confess that Im something of a luddite. I dont own any video game consoles and the last game I spent any time playing was probably GRAND THEFT AUTO: VICE CITY, which I used to enjoy back in the day. Its not that I dont enjoy video games, but theyve just never really been something that was a big part of my life.
That said, I can see the appeal of multi-player online games like THE SIMS, as they can be a great escape from the pressures of the real world and while GAMER is certainly a huge exaggeration, I wonder if perhaps one day things will advance to the stage where gamers are controlling actual people? Hopefully not but then again, THE RUNNING MAN ended up being a pretty prescient view of reality TV, so hopefully in a few years, we wont be saying the same thing about GAMER.
However, despite the heady subject matter, GAMER isnt a particularly brainy flick. Its a completely off the wall, jacked up action flick from Neveldine/Taylor, who previously gave us the CRANK films. I must admit- I loved the CRANK films- particularly CRANK 2, which I think is some kind of trash masterpiece (a trash-terpiece if you will). I went into GAMER expecting another crazy adrenaline rush, and thats exactly what I got. While it never quite reaches CRANK 2 levels of insanity, this is still pretty funky action pic. In the space of ninety minutes, we get a body count that has to be in the triple digits (no PG-13 for this one folks), loads of T & A, and even a full on musical number set to a Sammy Davis Jr. cover of Ive Got You Under My Skin. Hell theres even a character named Rick Rape (played by Milo Ventimiglia of all people), so right there you can imagine what kind of film were dealing with here.
Overall, I had fun with GAMER. Gerard Butler is a kick ass action hero (dude is JACKED!!!), and this gives him plenty of time to demonstrate his ass-kicking abilities. He even gets to take on Terry Crews at one point although the fight scene is over way to fast for my liking. The action scenes are fairly decent although this definitely suffers from the 800 cuts a minute/ shaky cam syndrome thats taken over every action film thats come out in the last few years although considering the subject matter, this technique is somewhat appropriate. Still, I miss the days when you could actually decipher whats happening in an action scene (another reason I loved INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS).
As the main baddy, Michael C. Hall is effective; if wildly over the top (he gets the aforementioned big musical number). DEXTER is probably my favorite TV show, so it was cool seeing him in this, although it made me even more anxious for the new season to start (one more week!).
The best thing about GAMER is that Neveldine/ Taylor definitely had the pacing down pat as it runs a lean ninety minutes, and doesnt wear out its welcome. I have to say, I kind of dig their whole trash/ excess aesthetic, and I image if you watch this between CRANK & CRANK 2, you could see their evolution (or de-evolution) to the trashterpiece insanity of CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE (this was shot BEFORE, and sat on the shelf for awhile). If you like this type of thing (and obviously, there are people that do, as the film went over really well as the screening I attended- although it had a few walkouts) youll probably get a kick out of it, although youll be disappointed if you walk in expecting a straight-forward action flick. Still, I dug it and would recommend it to anyone looking for a trashy adrenaline rush.
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