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?
A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal.
A bounty hunter learns that his next target is his ex-wife, a reporter working on a murder cover-up. Soon after their reunion, the always-at-odds duo find themselves on a run-for-their-lives adventure.
Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate the murders of others' surrogates.
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
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
(at around 51 mins) The motorcycle driven by Trace is a Buell Firebolt. See more »
(at around 1 min) In the scene showing the pyramids in Egypt, the word "Kable" is displayed backwards in Arabic letters. Since Arabic is read from right to left, the way it is shown in the movie, it would be read as "Lebaak". See more »
So-so at best, more notable for missed potential rather than what it does
At one point during this film my girlfriend commented that it "looked just like Modern Warfare 2" a game she has seen me play all too much and all too frequently. Indeed it does look very much like a FPS at times and this is the point of what is essentially the concept of The Running Man updated for the modern world of online gaming and living other lives out via the internet. Although the idea is far-fetched in terms of controlling people and indeed killing them, it is not a huge step for a fantasy film and it stays close to the world of Second Life, The Sims and the Call of Duty online shooter franchise. So, to my mind, this film had potential to be relevant, interesting, insightful or at least have loads of good action.
The problem is that, while it does a very small amount of all those things, it doesn't really do anything particularly well. The makers/writers clearly know the world they are entering here (witness a fat man "playing" a hot woman online, or a soldier tea-bagging a fallen enemy in the middle of all the action) but they don't seem to have an opinion on it all or, if they do, then it doesn't come across very well in the writing. I say this because the social commentary here is minimal. OK there are certain things shown that are exaggerated versions of where we now are but that in itself is not enough to count there is no opinion behind it, nothing for the viewer to think about either then or later on that evening. This leaves the action to carry the film.
On this front the film is "OK" as it has noise and a sort of plot for us to follow. Problem is that the way both are delivered actually detracts rather than enhances. I get the idea the rapid editing and regular "static" touches to the footage meant to suggest the world of broadcast and online media. Problem is that it is all too frantic and too excessive to really engage. The "Second Life" sections are just too OTT to not seem daft and it doesn't feel like an established online game but rather everyone enjoying the novelty of it (which is not where this part of the film is). Again the hot pants, regular nudity and general female sexuality is all part of the gaming world but done to excess like it is here it spoils things a bit rather than being a fair observation it feels the film is overdoing it on purpose to play to these viewers. Similarly the action is hampered by two things. Firstly the same frantic editing makes it all too chaotic and too hard to get into in terms of being an action movie. The second thing to note is that by being so close to a FPS in terms of look it forgets that generally video games are best when played and actually make for pretty dull viewing when you're waiting for your turn. The action scenes are mostly "so-so" where really these should have been the place where the viewer is "gotten into the film". Perhaps the style worked with Crank because the whole film was nonsense but here the concept doesn't suit it.
The cast were maybe attracted by the concept hoping for more intelligence but nobody has much to do. Butler remains to be nothing more than a solid presence to me not sure why he is seen as a big star lead all of a sudden but here we are. He is OK I guess but his performance cannot find the humanity or comment that is lacking from the script. More irritating is the way Hall is wasted. So great in Six Feet Under and Dexter, he has very little to work with here although he still works with it well. Sedgwick is equally wasted while Ludicrous appears to have done all his stuff in about two days and has no character to speak of. Crews is a physical presence but again his part in the film is so poorly thought out that he might as well not be there. Nobody really excels here and it is all about the delivery which sadly isn't great either.
Overall Gamer is a distraction that works on that level but never gets close to the potential it has. At moments it seems like it will be excessive craziness like Crank was but it doesn't ever follow through on that (even if it does produce a great moment for Pysch fans). It has a concept that suggests social commentary but doesn't have anything to say. Finally it sells itself as an action movie but is put together in such a way that the action doesn't have a flow to it that draws the viewer in. For all it offers Gamer is sadly average at best distracting and short but that's about the height of the praise I can offer it.
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