Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, known for both Crank films, Gamer is another adrenaline-fueled, action-packed film under this duo’s belt. Starring Gerard Butler as Kable, and Michael C. Hall as multi-millionaire Ken Castle, Gamer takes its audience into the near future where technology is so advanced one man engineered a way for people to physically control others. The story takes a back seat to the intense action and over-the-top-camera work. This is one of those movies where you sit back, turn your brain off, and watch the people on the screen shoot each other and blow stuff up for an hour and a half, and it fills that niche very well.
The plot of Gamer is very straightforward. Ken Castle invented a way for people to control others and used it in designing a game called Society. This game is similar to Second Life or Playstation’s Home, but instead of an in game avatar, players are paying to control real people, who in turn are getting paid for their services. This became so popular, Castle decided to modify the game into a first person shooter called Slayers where people control death row inmates. If an inmate survives 30 games, he or she is set free.
Kable, an inmate found guilty of first-degree murder, is on a 27 game winning streak and has become very popular with fans of the game. Controlled by Simon, a teenage boy living off of his father’s riches, Kable only needs three more wins to be set free and reunited with his wife and daughter. Castle becomes concerned that once Kable is set free he will tell the media about how inhumane this system is, so he plans to kill him before he gets that chance. Finding this out, Kable asks Simon to let him act on his own free will and win the game his own way.
Although the story isn’t the strongest, it gives an interesting look at a hypothetical world where the violence in videogames issue has been escalated to the killing of real people. Throughout the film, a rebel group called Humanz hijacks television channels and advocates the idea that games like Society and Slayers will ultimately expand to control humanity itself. Gamer’s plot shows the consequences of a world where technology is left to run rampant and unchecked. Although it is not a very strong plot, it still makes you think about how much technology controls your individual life.
If you have seen the Crank films, the cinematography in Gamer will look very familiar. Packed with fast edits, jump cuts and cameras revolving around the characters, the style of the film is fun, but it can be a bit too much at some points. During some of the action scenes it is difficult to tell what is happening because the cuts are edited so close together. The pacing of the film is supposed to be fast, but sometimes it is a little too fast. Aside from those few instances, Neveldine’s and Taylor’s style of cinematography does its job and the film would not be as adrenaline-packed as it is without it.
What surprised me the most about Gamer wasn’t the straightforward plot or the fast paced camera work, but the acting. I knew Butler was going to give a good performance, but I was weary about some of his supporting cast. In the end they all did a good job and fit their characters well. None of the lines felt forced and the dialogue went smoothly when there were no guns around to interrupt the characters.
The soundtrack is standard fare for action movies. It’s mostly hard rock to supplement the action scenes, but there is also some techno to give more life to Society and other techie scenes. A couple of oddballs are mixed into the film to throw you off and make you laugh, but most of the soundtrack fits the movie well.
When I went into this movie I wanted to be blown away by the action scenes and while not as over the top as Crank or its sequel, Gamer definitely delivers the action to its viewers. The gun battles are very reminiscent to the First Person Shooter genre of videogames. The guns are always in aiming position, frag grenades are constantly being thrown and there are numerous explosions throughout. The film is mostly broken up into a number of different shooting scenes, but Butler has a few hand-to-hand combat scenes that really get the blood pumping. Almost the entire film has something exciting to offer and there is never a dull moment when the action hits and the shooting starts.
Overall, Gamer is worth a look-see. The copious amounts of action make up for its predictable story, and the acting is solid all around. While not as over the top as Crank it is still in-your-face and very thrilling. The film also touches on some modern day issues, but it never takes itself too seriously. If you don’t see it in theaters, give it a rent upon its DVD release. If action movies are up your alley, then Gamer will definitely satisfy your cravings.