Gamer (2009)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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Overall Rating 59%
Overall Rating
Ranked #1,035
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Gerard Butler
Gerard Butler
Amber Valletta
Amber Valletta
Michael C. Hall
Michael C. Hall
Kyra Sedgwick
Kyra Sedgwick
Logan Lerman
Logan Lerman
Review by Chad
Added: January 17, 2010
As a child of the eighties, I grew up on the old-school Atari and loved every minute of the blocky goodness that it offered. Sure, these games may seem quaint by today's standards, but back then, those little cartridges were cutting edge and blew me away. If somebody had come back in time and told me that in just twenty years games would be predominantly played online with friends while chatting with one another through headsets, and if you clued me in that these games would feature ultra-realistic graphics, voice acting, and award-winning storylines, I wouldn't have believed it... but here we are with our Xbox this and Playstation that. So, the premise of a film like Gamer may seem a little far-fetched by today's standards, but one can only imagine how we will get our entertainment after another twenty years have gone by.

As you may have guessed, tonight's film deals with the state of video games in the not too distant future. We discover that a man named Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has developed a method of mind control via computers and nanotechnology, and he uses this to entertain the general public. It starts out innocently enough with a game called Society, a game not unlike the popular Sims release where players control a person of their own. The difference here is that these players have total control over a living person. Want to take your person to a rave party? Strip them naked and have them screw the first guy (or girl) that they encounter? You can do whatever you like short of killing them as you are in complete control. It's a simple system, really: people get paid to be a "Sim" and give up control of their bodies for a few hours per day, while players from around the world pay top dollar to control one of those people.

Things get a little more interesting when Castle develops a game called Slayers, a game that once again centers around this mind control technology. In this game, there are no parties or wanton sex, but there is a whole hell of a lot of killing. Prisoners are the participants here, and these convicts are given a simple deal: survive thirty games of Slayer and you receive a "get out of jail free" card. Lose the game, however, and you lose your life. As the gamer, think of it as playing a first-person shooter, only, you're actually controlling and killing real people.

This leads us to a fellow named Kable (Gerard Butler), a man who was convicted of murder and who has won twenty-seven of the required thirty games. He wants nothing more than to win those last three games and go home to his wife Angie (Amber Valletta), but the powers that be have different plans. As it turns out, Kable knows a few secrets that some powerful men would like to keep secret, so his chance of survival is very slim... and this is completely ignoring the group of hackers (led by Ludacris) who have a keen interest in this game for reasons which will later be made clear.

Observant readers may notice that Gamer borrows a page or two from other movies, most noticeably Death Race 2000 and The Running Man, but the film does bring a few tricks of its own to the table. Chief among these is the visual style of the film: it's full of flashy colors and fast editing, and it feels not unlike a music video at times. Typically, this would be a complaint coming from yours truly as I tend to hate that style of filmmaking, but here, it actually quite pleasing to the eye. Gamers will also enjoy the numerous nods to popular video games of today (watch for the hilarious Halo 3 reference), but being a video game nerd is far from a requirement for enjoying the film.

Now, about that story. While it's completely serviceable, brings up a few neat ideas, and even attempts to do a little social commentary, the script is not the reason that you will want to pick up the DVD. This is an action film at heart, so if you're looking for something that will make you think or bring about all sorts of conversations after the credits have rolled, you'd be well advised to look elsewhere. However, if you want to witness explosions, blood, gibs ("gore" for the non-gamers), gratuitous nudity, and a couple of witty one-liners in a science fiction shell, then this is the movie for you. A sci-fi classic it's not, but it will bring a solid night of mindless entertainment to your household.

As far as the acting goes, "fine" would be the first word that pops to mind. Michael C. Hall (of Dexter fame) is quite entertaining during his brief appearances, and he does show that he's got a good deal of range as an actor. I will say that watching his little song and dance routine, while amusing as all hell, will permanently change the way that I look at the Dexter character. The rest of the cast? Again, "fine" is the key word. Gerard Butler is perfectly capable of handling the leading role, but don't look for him to become the next big action star. Amber Valletta is acceptable as his wife, but again, I don't think that she's going to be up for any awards courtesy of this role. Even Ludacris fits into that category: I had low expectations for the rapper best known for classic ditties such as "Ho" and "Move Bitch", but he did do a fine job with the role.

Overall, I enjoyed Gamer, and if you're looking for what it's offering - mindless entertainment, no more and no less - then I do believe that you will too. It has some damned fine action sequences, men will enjoy the titillation, gamers will enjoy the references, and it's all wrapped up in a storyline that gets the job done. 8/10 sounds about right.
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 01/17/2010, 07:20 PM
Goddamn this one was fun. Didn't expect too much from it, but Ludacris isn't a bad actor (yeah, I said it) and you sure as shit can trust Neveldine/Taylor to make some bad-ass action movies.
Shame you ninja'd me to this review, though... got to beat your ass to "Crank 2", though. Thanks for reminding me.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 02/25/2010, 06:26 PM
Perhaps the very definition of "meh". And the showtune in the middle should have been left right there on the editing room floor.
Lucid Dreams #3: Lucid Dreams - added 07/20/2010, 08:17 PM
I'm going with Chris on this one. However, I did like the showtune scene.
BuryMeAlive #4: BuryMeAlive - added 07/25/2010, 03:05 PM
Michael C. Hall and his little dance scene is the only reason to watch this movie really.
Griffinheart #5: Griffinheart - added 10/22/2010, 02:38 PM
This movie is quite similar to the most recent Death Race movie. The concept is better, but the execution is a bit worse. 8/10
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