Film Review: Gamer

by | Sep 4, 2009 | FILM / TV

Some movies are so bad that, by the end, you find that merely viewing the film has put you in a bad mood. Three years ago, Crank had that effect on me. Now, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the writer directing team behind that movie, return to give us Gamer. Once again, I find myself incapable of discerning any redeeming qualities in their work. Gamer is being advertised as the last big movie of the summer. It is truly a shame that the season must end this way.

Some movies are so bad that, by the end, you find that merely viewing the film has put you in a bad mood. Three years ago, Crank had that effect on me. Now, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the writer directing team behind that movie, return to give us Gamer. Once again, I find myself incapable of discerning any redeeming qualities in their work. Gamer is being advertised as the last big movie of the summer. It is truly a shame that the season must end this way.

The film shows us a dark vision of the near future. A genius computer programmer named Ken Castle has come up with a way to take videogames to the next level. Through an injection of artificial cells into a person’s brain, they become susceptible to commands from a computer program. It begins as a social simulator where people pay to take control of someone else in order to have personal interactions anonymously and by proxy. After immediate success, Castle turns his technology in a more violent direction. The government sponsors a project to have death row inmates implanted with the mind control cells. People are given the ability to control the convicts in giant death matches. If a gamer can keep a convict alive for 30 matches, then that convict is set free. Only one inmate has ever come close. Kable, played by Gerard Butler, has survived 27 matches at the beginning of the film.

If this sounds familiar to you, then you may have seen Death Race last year. That movie had the similar premise of death row inmates given the opportunity to drive in violent car races. Winning a certain amount of races earned the inmate his freedom. The fact that Death Race starred Jason Statham, who also starred in the Neveldine/Taylor Crank movies, makes me wonder if the similarities between the two films are really coincidental.

It is interesting to me how little credit the filmmakers give the general public in this film. Only a small underground group of hackers seem to take issue with the commercialization of brutal killing. They are also the only ones who have come to the realization that a computer programmer with the technology to achieve mind control might have more sinister goals than simply becoming rich. The hackers decide to break Kable out of the game because he somehow holds the key to unraveling Castle’s nefarious schemes.

That’s about all there is to this film. It is simply a vehicle to have Gerard Butler run through scenes of headache inducing shaky cam and abrupt cuts while he kills everyone in sight. The film is an assault on the senses and provides nothing of substance to make it worth suffering through. Not even the film’s subject demographic, people who play videogames, are presented positively. They are characterized as morbidly obese, or morally depraved, or both.

It is difficult to put into words how much I hated this movie. It is a film without a single likeable character. It is a film that demonstrably hates its primary audience. It is a film that tries to criticize the commercialization of violence, even though it itself is commercialized violence. The summer movie season is now over. It ended at its lowest point.

Review By Gareth Mussen

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

RVA culture rag since 2005. #RVA




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