"Gamer" DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2010)

1/20/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review


Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Written by Neveldine and Taylor, 95 minutes, Rated R.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Gamer," the latest film from "Crank" creators Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, is a film so overwhelmingly out of touch with reality that it's hard to imagine how someone could even conceive of the ideas within it.

Very basically, the film takes place in the near future where technology has advanced to the point where people can play video games via other real people. Gerard Butler plays a death row inmate named John Tillman (nicknamed "Kable"), who is one such controlled human in a game called "Slayers," where criminals are the game characters, but when they die, they actually die. The game (and the technology that allows this sort of mind control) was created by an eccentric multi-billionaire named Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall of TV's "Dexter"), who has sinister motives behind his revolutionary inventions.

The lot of it is typical dystopic, technology-based fiction on the surface. But this is a Neveldine/Taylor film. And so, much like "Crank," everything must be exaggerated beyond comprehension.

Apparently, their image of the average video game player is one of sadism, sexual deviance and excess. Everyone's dying for the next kill, the next drug, the next scantilly dressed woman. I've rarely seen filmmakers so out of touch with reality, or with human psychology. What world do they live in where they honestly believe people play video games because they genuinely like killing real people? And what right do they have condeming violence in media when they themselves continue making films rife with graphic violence?

This all brings to question Neveldine/Taylor's ultimate intentions. Are they aiming to satirize video games, media, etc., or are they, as some critics say, simply following in the footsteps of filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard and just screwing with their audience and having a bit of fun? Are their films brilliant or exploitative--or both? Personally, I'd go for simply exploitative, but I suppose ultimately, it's up to the viewer.

Butler, perhaps still best known for his role as Leonidas in "300," works just fine here, as does the rest of the cast. Ludacris gives a particularly decent performance as the leader of an undergound group determined to take down Castle's psychotic video game. Michael C. Hall gives by far the best performance, a truly great one in its own right--shame it had to be in this film.

Speaking solely of the film's technical proficiency, "Gamer" is definitely a step-up from the duo's rather incompetent work in the two "Crank" films, which overall look as if they were filmed with a cheap digital camera by an ape on a skateboard. Here we get some reasonably well-choreographed setpieces, occasionally spiraling into that messy 30-cuts-a-second schizophrenia they display in "Crank" but otherwise generally impressive.

One quite positive thing I have to say about the film is regarding its last act, which is actually quite brilliant. Without giving too much away, it includes a random dance sequence that leads to a fist-fight on an empty basketball court. It's ridiculous and bizarre, but it somehow managed to be immensely entertaining, and it actually ended up being an awesome climax to an otherwise unimpressive film.

So, "Gamer" has me pretty split--I'm baffled by the view the filmmakers have on society and media, but the film is so absurd that it's hard to tell what's meant to be taken seriously in the first place. Overall, I found it rather stupid and pointless despite a few good spots, but there may be more to the film than meets the eye. For now, it's a pass, but "Gamer" is a real enigma that may be worth coming back to, and ultimately it's sure to impress big-time action fans.

Grade: D+

View the movie trailer for "Gamer" below. What are your thoughts?

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