Directed by: Neveldine/Taylor
Cast: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick, Logan Lerman
Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins
Release Date: September 4, 2009
Plot: In the not-so-distant future, entertainment has become so sophisticated that it uses real human beings in its video games. In a violent multi-player game, “Slayers” like Gerard Butler’s character, are restricted by mind-control devices, with their every move delegated by human players. Created by Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), a reclusive billionaire, the game uses death row inmates and allows them freedom if they survive thirty matches.
Who’s It For? The fun of Gamer expands to action fans in general, especially those who like their action movies sugary. By that I don’t mean cutesy, I mean filled to the brim with energy.
Expectations: Senseless action led full steam ahead by worship to all of those who play video games.
Gerard Butler as Kable: Kable may be a human being, but he is as much a video game character as Master Chief from “Halo” or Marcus Phoenix from “Gears of War,” etc. Butler has no difficulty fitting the part of an action hero, and certainly makes us believe a punch from someone with his gruff would hurt like hell.
Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle: If Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s evil twin was from the south and a raised by M-rated video games, you might get Castle, a super genius whose drastic inventions seem to have morphed all that is entertainment. Hall, (enjoyed by many on Showtime’s “Dexter”), is great as the delicious villain, and can even hold his own when standing mano a mano with the hulking Bulter. Not for nothing, Hall delivers on providing the only real acting required by Gamer.
Kyra Sedgwick as Gina Palmer: As a talk show host that feeds on sensationalism, she’s a great example of Gamer’s possibilities of being an intelligent satire of future entertainment, but unfortunately it’s a small part. With what she’s given, Sedgwick is pretty sharp.
Talking: A whole lot of action happens in Gamer, but after all of that death and destruction, there isn’t one awesome line to take away from it. Shouldn’t there be some law that requires a decent quip after a certain amount of explosions and/or shootings? Worth noting are the homophobic slurs that nonchalantly come out of video gamer Simon’s mouth – they couldn’t be any more true to the general vernacular of the gaming community.
Sights: Another movie of grand action has been marred by overzealous editing. The film’s nutzo action would be more enjoyable if it were easier to distinguish the basics of any regular scene set-up, such as who is shooting at whom. On the other hand, the action that we actually can see is good stuff.
Sounds: Marilyn Manson’s cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” can be heard twice, and continues the dark edge felt from its utilization in the trailer. But the best musical moment is easily Michael C. Hall’s performance of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” a wickedly clever moment with wonderful singing, coordinated dancing and neck snaps. Cole Porter and James Bond bad-guy-like violence? Sign me up!
Best Scene: See above. This moment may not have random motorcyclists on fire cruise crashing around an impromptu war zone, or one truck flipping over another truck, but it has Hall singing and dancing to a jazz song followed up by Butler fighting his way through a room of “Slayers.” Enough said.
Ending: Open for a sequel. I’ve heard a few whispers about a possible trilogy, but it seems like this weekend’s box office doesn’t agree with that.
Questions: Can you really start up an ethanol-only truck … like that?
Rewatchability: For once I am going to utilize “shoddy editing” as an excuse for a second viewing of Gamer’s whiz bang. Perhaps seeing some of the action sequences again will allow them to make more sense, and thus more enjoyable?
The newest film from Crank duo Neveldine/Taylor agrees with the energy of video games. Luckily, it does not abide to the laziness such entertainment can cause in its followers. The hyperactive film doesn’t hesitate to portray gamers as selfish kids who may or may not be attached to the realities of actual violence, and it even has a special middle finger reserved for over-the-top virtual world programs like “Second Life.” As much as it is a collection of non-stop, absolutely bonkers moments of mass Hollywood violence, Gamer might actually function better as a preview of a video-game dominated dystopia.
Whether Neveldine/Taylor intended for such messages is questionable, but this coupling of action junkies certainly succeed in pleasing the senses of their title demographic. Everything in sight is blown to pieces, bullets rain from the sky, and a lot of people get killed. Gamer is so action-packed that for Crank 3, constantly energy depleted character Chev Chelios will shoplift a copy of this movie on DVD and then melt it, and then will shoot that liquid straight into his veins. After doing that, he’ll never stop kicking ass.
Final Score: 7/10