Gamer is not a new concept. Despite being a modern version of The Running Man (updated for a 2009 audience) comprised of mostly, ready for this, gamers *gasp*, the writing / directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Neveldine / Taylor) take a look at society’s current obsession with games like the Sims and Halo.
Unfortunately, Gamer slightly misses the mark despite the duo having been successful in targeting the gaming audience when they brought the high-octane adrenalin pumping Crank to the big screen. The failure of last years Death Race should have been a sign that audiences expect more.
The movie stars Gerard Butler (300) and Michael C. Hall (Dexter) who are both great in their respective rolls. The film starts out strong with some fast paced in-your-face action, but then tries to go into a story telling mode that doesn’t quite work in this film. That’s not to say that Gamer isn’t a fun film to watch, but if you’re going to tell stories you need some character development.
Neveldine and Taylor have a high-energy filming style which is most evident during the in-game sequences. Especially while in the ‘Slayers’ game, but this style also works against them when they bring it into the real world. By employing a barrage of fast cuts and quick pans they manage to keep the action fast paced and fresh in-game. By changing the style in the real world they could have easily changed the dynamic of the film and brought some distinctiveness between the two worlds.
One of the unique things about Gamer is the imagined technology used in the movie – a game room that is all screen except the floor, controlling live people in two different games “Society”, (which is like the Sims) and “Slayers” (which is like every first person shooting game on the market), advertising taking up complete buildings, and some crazy new weapons tech.
What’s not unique is putting inmates up against each other in competition where if they win X amount of battles, races, or whatever, they get their freedom, neither is having a villain who wants to keep their “star” in the game or take them out because there’s more at stake.
Gamer starts as a sci-fi film, but ends as a revenge flick. This is where things go a little wonky. First, with the help of a hacker group lead by Ludacris (Humanz), Kable (Butler) escapes when his player cuts the proverbial strings to let him loose. Kable then goes after Ken Castle (Hall) who does a jazz dance when they meet. Seriously, he does. I hope it was supposed to be funny ‘cause it made me laugh.
Despite the films negatives it was a fun watch. Should you drop your hard earned coin on this or wait for the inevitable Blu-ray release? Your call, but I personally enjoy the big screen experience, but could have waited to see it on Blu.