If you like Gerard Butler, understand online gaming, and can put
up with truly extremist filmmaking, "Gamer" is a ton of fun.
Note--if you are NOT a fan of these things, I'd have a hard time
believing you will enjoy this film experience.
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the writer-directors of the
"Crank" films, made "Gamer." That's very important to know
BEFORE you arrive at the theater to see "Gamer" because just like
the "Crank" films, "Gamer" is speed, uppers,
and adrenaline rolled in an explosive casing and then jammed into C4
and thrown into an F1 racer.
Then it gets shot out of a railgun.
In fact, I'd say the only major negative for me in this
Running Man" clone is the camerawork...I'm glad I saw "Gamer"
before, say, getting on a boat or an airplane. It'll make you
dizzy...but, if you can get past that, and you are a fan of the
things I mentioned above, "Gamer" is a great ending to pure candy
Gerard Butler plays Kable, a man trapped in a live-action gaming
experience known in the near future as "Slayers"; like online games
of the present, users sitting at home can join "Slayers" to control
inmates of the US federal prison system in real-life gun battles
where the winners receive cash and prizes. Kable, on the
inside, can get out of prison by surviving an incredible 30 straight
matches in "Slayers"...when we meet him, he is just finishing up win
#27. With three matches to go, Kable has a chance to get
out...unless the show's evil producer & creator, Ken Castle (Michael
C. Hall, from "Dexter"), can find a way to stop him. To add
just enough backstory to keep the non-action scenes moving, Kable
has a family outside of prison, including a wife (Amber Valletta)
who is involved in a similar user-controlled real life experience
called "Society", a clear rip on worlds like "The Sims" or "Second
Life." How can the two reunite?
Even with the "Crank" films, you could tell that Neveldine &
Taylor are big fans of gaming; here in "Gamer", there are subtle
references to things that any gamer will recognize and they are
matched with some decent action scenes featuring Butler running
around on "maps" in the movie's game world. Gratuitous
violence, ridiculously high body counts, random moments like
computer-generated "non-playable characters" that happen to walk
through bullet-riddled environments like they are going to work,
save points, "ping" delays and the like will all make gaming fans
happy. The real caveat, though, are the "Society" scenes--it's
possible that people who have never seen someone play "Second Life"
will think that those scenes are stupid or unrealistic or
extreme...no, my friend, quite the contrary! That's what makes
the "Society" scenes so great is that they are meant to mimic how
crazy it is that someone would sit at home and live out their
fantasies through online avatars that like to ride bikes, bang
hookers or eat sushi. It's really that random, and the movie's
poking of this phenomenon worked for me.
As extremes go, it was nice to see that the characters are all
playing stereotypes at one end of the spectrum. Hall's bad guy
is not that interesting, but he appears to be playing it like he
gives a damn. The blank, bland Valletta (no offense, Amber) is
perfect as the hot-but-soulless wife; you can never really imagine
Kable and his wife do together but thankfully, there are almost no
scenes where we have to find that out. Kyra Sedgwick shows up
to play a popular TV interviewer, and between her part and the
always-comic Terry Crews as Kable's second-half nemesis, everyone
seems to have embraced the "take it to the next level" acting that
Neveldine/Taylor films require.
It's got a shitty ending and Ludacris, once again, makes me
wonder why so many directors want him in their movies...otherwise,
this was a surprisingly good time at the movies.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard