Monday, September 7, 2009


The premise of Gamer is that several years into the future, incarcerated criminals on death row are given a 'get-out-of-jail-free-card' if they participate in thirty sessions of a real-time combat scenario. During these sessions, they are controlled by a video-game player who is relaxing in the comfort of their own homes as if you are playing Call of Duty with real people. If these hardened killers survive those thirty sessions, they can be allowed to walk free. However, it is pretty rare that a felon survives long enough, but Kable a.k.a John Tillman (Gerard Butler) is close to being the first inmate to ever be set free. Along with his player, a young boy named Simon (Logan Lerman), Kable is very close to winning but he becomes aware of a conspiracy involving the technology in the game which will be employed by the game's creator, Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), to... well, pretty much just take over the world and have everyone under his control.

Gamer is a high concept film and yet the directing duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank, Pathology) once again decide to simply fool around with the premise without achieving any emotional connection between the characters and the audience. That is perhaps why I can't fault the acting for being so bad (and this film has a very interesting ensemble cast that also includes Aaron Yoo, Alison Lohman, Terry Crews, Ludacris, Kyra Sedgwick, John Leguizamo, Keith David, and Amber Valletta) since after all, the material is just so shallow that there truly is nothing for the actors to work with. Many topics involving video games and their cultural and technological impact are touched on in a way that might make some take notice of those topics, but the film does very little to come to any conclusion about the methodology or psychology of video-gaming. There are moments where I'm almost sure that the film wants to criticize the constant violence that takes place in video game content and how it makes human beings less adept with social skills (we see this with the real-world game called Society) and yet the film doesn't go anywhere with the talking points it showcases because after all, the film is at the end of the day a depiction of a violent action-packed blood-sport.

The film is essentially if Paul W.S. Anderson or Michael Bay had made Tron only I think Neveldine/Taylor aren't even as skilled with how they present their subject matter as their fellow action directors (and I mean that as an insult to the likes of Anderson and Bay). The cinematography of the film is meant to act like a video-game with static and fast-cutting and zooming in-and-out several times during a single shot. Those with a weak-stomach may find this headache inducing and if you couple the look of the film with the nonsensical subject matter, you are left with a very poor criticism of the social niche that video-games have introduced to society.

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