Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick
Directed by: Neveldine/Taylor
Rated: R for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.
Movie Released: 2009
Set in the future, Gamer tells the tale of what it would be like to be a pawn in a real life video game. As a way of living out your fantasies, a billionaire video game developer has found a way of changing people’s brainwaves so they can be controlled by other humans who pay to play these live action games. One of the most successful games is Slayers, a 1st person shooter game that re-enacts battles with their human participants. But when the controller of the games most sucessful warrior, Kable (Butler) listens to a rogue group of anti-gamers and turns Kable loose, Kable sets out to bring an end to the game and restore his life to something normal again.
If you’re confused by reading the above synapsis, don’t feel bad. Watching the film gives you about just as much clarity. This film had an interesting idea, but was so over the top and so ridiculous that it’s amazing that the plot makes as much sense as it does. The film clunks away for 95 minutes serving two purposes, gunfire and sex. Sadly enough, neither of them are really done that well. As a viewer you spend much of your time in one of two worlds; the Slayers world where Gerard Butler is running around shooting people, and the Society world where people control other people in a Sims like environment. The Society environment is really just an excuse for Internet perverts to indulge in their sexual fantasies by controlling another human being, and Slayers brings you all the blood and guts of war with out having to actually be in the battle.
Directed by Neveldine and Taylor, who’s previous claim to fame is Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage, Gamer does very little to stray from the all out ridiculousness of their previous films. It amazes me to no end how these two continue to get work, as it seems that each film they make out does the previous one in sheer and utter stupidity. Not only do Neveldine and Taylor feel they have a gift to direct, but they also write their own material. The end result is a quickly edited, shaky cam, strobe light, chop cut film that has about the style and grace of a crippled chimp trying to perform the ballet moves of Swan Lake. It’s amazing how these two manage to have any moments captured on film that are worth the price of the celluloid it is printed on.
The story behind Gamer could have some depth behind it, but Neveldine and Taylor never really give that story a chance to breathe. Instead, they go for the quick almost torture porn attempt at instant gratification leaving little substance to actually resonate in your brain. And just when you think they have taken every possible step into the realm of stupidity, the two prove that they can take it one step further. Enter a scene where Slayers creator breaks into a song and dance number as he sends his mind controlled goons to take on Gerard Butler. The only explanation that I can use to justify this scene was the use of some sort of narcotic during the conception and execution of the idea.
It’s hard to really enjoy any of the characters in the film and that certainly has nothing to do with the acting. Both Michael C. Hall (of Dexter fame) and Gerard Butler try to keep this film a float, but the film reeks of such overblown plot points that it’s next to impossible to do so. I certainly hope both of these actors signed on to this film with only one goal in mind, a paycheck. If they chose to work with Neveldine and Taylor because they felt that the writer/director duo had a hint of creative genius I actually feel sorry for them.
When it was all said and done, Gamer was a waste of celluloid and a waste of DVD discs. While I suppose somewhere in the world someone could find a practical use for a DVD of Gamer, at this time I’m not sure what that is. I suppose the disc could be a $15 drink coaster and would complete your Neveldine/Taylor coaster set (assuming you have Crank and Crank 2 coasters as well!). The point is, this was 95 minutes of my life that I can never get back. I don’t mind spacing out and watching a truly awful movie now and then, but Gamer wasn’t even an awful movie that had any redeeming qualities. There was no silver lining in the dark cloud known as Gamer. As I turned off the DVD player and began writing this review I realize that I am actually dumber for having seen Gamer. Don’t follow in my footsteps.