Gamer (2009 film)

Gerard tries very hard to look like me.

Gerard tries very hard to look like me.

At the request of a friend, I was asked to watch and review “Gamer”. Michael C. Hall(Ken Castle) and Gerard Butler(Kable) are the stars of the film, and turn in reasonable performances, especially in light of the strange material they had to work with. As a side note, I’m a huge Michael C. Hall fan from his Dexter days. So, I was definitely biased to give this film the benefit of the doubt going in.

Right from the get go, there are many quick, jarring cuts in the editing of the film, and it made it hard for me to follow everything that was going on. The opening action sequence is perhaps the most perplexing part of the film, as there is no context as to who or what we are watching – or why we care about their survival or death. So, we are treated to a relentless torrent of bullets, while about 50 people get shot as seen through a camera mounted on a paint mixer. All the while, having no idea who any of the characters are, or whether someone getting shot is real, or just a virtual reality. This ambiguity of consequence made it hard for the viewer to be anywhere near the edge of their seat.

However, soon enough, the movie starts rapidly explaining itself. The characters and plot piqued my interest immediately, and I found myself becoming quite intrigued after the first half hour or so. This movie has taken a lot of shit from critics for being a pastiche of other films in its genre, but I didn’t really feel that way. While the film certainly has echos of other futuristic dystopian thrillers, it seemed to distinguish itself enough to get a reasonable amount of originality points.

Killer jazz hands.

Killer jazz hands.

After the first 30 mins of run time, as the movie started to plod on a bit, I found myself way more engaged in the nuances and details of the fascinating backdrop of the film, than any of the characters or snoozefest action sequences. In the year 2024, there are now real people being controlled as virtual characters by other, richer real people. This ultimate gamification of sex and violence provides users with most of the reward of their activities, with none of the risk. There were genuine possibilities for this movie to get super bizarre and cool, but it never quite scratched the itch in my Amygdala. Perhaps, if the writers had chosen a darker, more turbulent path for the plot, I would have been satiated. The closest it got was the final song and dance sequence featuring a chorus line of murderous inmates, led by Castle the puppeteer. Gamer is worth watching one time if you enjoy sci-fi, gratuitous amounts of tits and ass, and don’t have epilepsy.

Overall Rating :    5.6/10

–  JA

 

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