In a future mind-controlling game, death row convicts are forced to battle in a 'Doom'-type environment. Convict Kable, controlled by Simon, a skilled teenage gamer, must survive thirty sessions in order to be set free. Or won't he?
Ken Castle is extremely rich, popular and powerful since he invented and started exploiting the virtual online parallel reality games, in which people can either pay as user or be paid as 'actor' in a system of mind-control. The ultimate version, Slayers, fields death row convicts as gladiators in a desperate dim bid for survival, which no-one made yet. The champion, John 'Kable' Tillman, was scheduled to die just before he'ld gain release, but he persuades his teenage 'handler' to hand over the reins so he can fully use his talents and experience. Thus Kable escapes to freedom, only to be chased illegally by Castle's men, yet fights back all the way to his HQ and challenges his evil hidden plans. Written by
The opening montage of time-lapse shots and other scenes of the world where we see ads for Kable and/or graffiti of Ken Castle overlaid on buildings or walls are mostly taken from Ron Fricke's wordless film Baraka (1992), for example, the shots of the Giza Pyramids, India, homeless man sleeping under a bridge among others. See more »
(at around 11 mins) After Smith's show Castle and Gina have a conversation, and in different shots Ken is and is not licking his lollipop. See more »
In a not too distant future, the world is obsessed with "Slayers", a game that allows it's players to control real death row inmates in a real world gaming environment. If they win a certain amount of games, the inmate receives a full pardon. The star inmate is Kable. He's won more games than any other "Slayer" has even come close to, and he's close to getting out. However, the game's billionaire creator, Ken Castle, has no intention of letting that happen.
Mixing elements of The Running Man with bizarre game-playing scenarios, outlandish events and a sizable chunk of social commentary, Gamer is an interesting if not always successful little action picture. The commentary on things such as people living reality through game-play and the depths to which society will sink for entertainment are on the mark. Aside from "Slayers", Castle also created an earlier game called "Society", which is sort of like "Sim City", only with real people. Gamers control people in the game and make them do whatever disgusting act they want, such as burning themselves, sex fantasies and the like. I personally felt these were the most effective segments in the film, including a perfect use of the song, "The Bad Touch".
Michael C. Hall was a big draw for me, as he is terrific on one of my favorite TV shows, Dexter. As expected, he was the standout among the cast. His Ken Castle is an over-the-top megalomaniacal nut case, and I enjoyed every moment he was on screen. Alas, he wasn't on screen as often as I expected going in. We naturally get much more of Gerard Butler, who isn't much of an actor from what I've seen. He's tolerable here, but nothing special. We also get a few smaller roles for the likes of Kyra Sedgwick, Pathology's Milo Ventimiglia, Terry Crews, who feels out of place in a non-comedic role, and terrific Drag Me to Hell actress, Alison Lohman.
The action itself is underwhelming, as it suffers from the all too common quick cutting/shaky cam routine. I have to admit, that doesn't bother me as often as it does most people, but it did here. There's also one ridiculous scene involving Kable filling up a truck's fuel tank with something other than fuel. Regardless, while a flawed film, it does have some solid material to offer. It just could have been wrapped a little tighter.
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