A billionaire's wife is abducted. Now, he is forced to play a game where getting his wife back is the prize...eight hours to win...only he's never played a game like this. He calls on the only people who can help: the Armchair Combat Professionals. Written by
Liberation Force is the biggest selling video game, and William runs the company that makes it. However, he has never played a video game.
William gets a mysterious call from someone with a strange-sounding voice asking if he likes to play games.
William and wife Melissa are celebrating an anniversary, but he devotes too much time to his job and it's not much of a celebration. Melissa gives William some tea to help him sleep.
And William really does sleep. He wakes up late and finds Melissa gone, and a ransom note.
Then William finds out what he has to do. He gets a message and a key to his old home office, which has been completely redesigned. He is told he has eight hours to play Liberation Force, starting at 1:00 Mountain Time, and to get his wife back he must win.
The cops can do a lot to help William because he is worth billions. The interactive game has many competitors, and the best of these are found. It is hard to make contact with them, but clever ways are found, and this movie turns into a comedy. All the major TV channels around the country run a crawl, like a news bulletin, telling the top competitors what they need to do.
Fragmaster is the best, and he lives in Florida. He has responsibilities but manages to get around those. Another competitor is a cop in his town, and the electric utility is asked to help.
Knarf37 is a loser living in his mother's basement. Athena is a Duke University student. PappaPooh happens to be home with his kids in Portland, Oregon, which provides many opportunities for laughs. And Master Chief, whose wife is hot and shows up later, is fortunate to get out of the most boring business meeting imaginable, as legalese is being read by a very monotonous voice.
At 1:00, the players are ready, and they introduce themselves. William is "Rookie" and knows absolutely nothing, but with no incentive to do so, the other players are happy to help him learn. Everyone has a microphone so their voices can be heard on each screen when the proper steps are taken. William even needs to learn how to do that. And each person is represented by an image on the screen which look somewhat realistic. There are backgrounds showing where our heroes are as they attempt to reach their goal, which is somewhere in Hawaii.
A Mr. Lee is also a player, but we never see his real identity. Alien drop ships land and our heroes have to go to Hawaii to do battle. William is not allowed to say why he is playing (if he does he loses), and only later does he offer all the players one million dollars. There are many rules, the most important of which is each player can only die once, and if Rookie dies, everyone dies and the game is lost. But there are many different means of protection available.
The action begins, and while we still have comedy, it's not as much a part of the movie as it was. The players all must deal with important decisions and moral dilemmas. The one million dollars, if that is indeed real, certainly provides an incentive, but these players really do care about each other, even though they are all over the country and have never actually met. There are disagreements, but they get resolved. Sacrifices must be made, and the players learn to work together.
So will William reach his goal and save Melissa? The actors playing the competitors are really good, and they make us care about them. There are plenty of laughs as well as touching moments.
The actress playing Captain Jenkins does a capable job. Her second in command is good for a few laughs.
The one major weakness is Bob Rue as William. He seems like he is auditioning for the role, or perhaps reading with the person auditioning for another role. While he has his moments, he should have been told, "Thank you, we'll let you know."
The video game art is what I will call video game realistic. Not real realistic, but quite detailed.
I have no experience whatsoever with video games of any type, and the closest I have gotten to this type of experience is an episode of "Community". Still, I had a good time.
It's quite entertaining.
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