Starring: Gerard Butler, Logan Lerman, Michael C. Hall
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Running Time: 95 mins
Gamer is an American film about a near future where people can volunteer to participate in live video games, and be controlled by others. One prisoner, sentenced to death, signs up for a war game, and whilst being controlled by a teenage gamer, has to survive 30 rounds to be set free.
From the directors that brought you the insane Crank, comes one of the most tedious, ugly, and nasty action films I’ve seen in years. Failing to provide any degree of entertainment, Gamer is a morbid and dull watch at every moment, attempting to laud itself as a groundbreaking and thought-provoking drama, but coming off as nothing more than a hugely unpleasant mess.
As far as Crank goes, I wasn’t blown away, but I liked how Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor used the manic, video-game style vibe in a more playful manner, which easily helped it to be entertaining. With regards to Gamer, however, there is not one moment where you feel any sense of fun or excitement, as the film takes itself unbelievably seriously despite still having the appearance of a video game movie aimed at angry thirteen year olds.
The biggest issue by far with Gamer is the fact that it unjustly thinks of itself as a thought-provoking masterpiece. Although it’s nice to see that it’s not all about violence and nudity, and there are some ideas behind all the madness, the film’s attempts to focus on the concepts of individuality, humanity and society are both pretentious and totally laughable.
While Neveldine and Taylor attempt to provide gritty thrills through the use of bloody video-game style violence, blinding neon and unnecessary amounts of swearing and nudity, they render any efforts to put across a thought-provoking message completely preposterous, because it becomes so hard to respect anything that the film does once you’ve sat through a good portion of watching whatever sort of disgusting madness has been unfolding since the beginning.
Like Crank, the visual style of the film is different, and that deserves a degree of praise (as does the soundtrack – by far the most entertaining part of the film), but it’s clear that this film is a major failure in every department. We’ve seen movies like Dredd combine gritty thrills and dark violence and yet still retain a degree of intelligence and intrigue in the story, whereas Gamer never manages to thread all of its ambitions together.
Finally, a word on the performances. Amidst all of the irritatingly manic visuals, it’s pretty hard to make out any proper acting from the likes of Gerard Butler, Logan Lerman and Michael C. Hall. I’m sure they tried their best, but this film was simply a lost cause from the outset.
Overall, Gamer is a total mess. I was bored and frustrated at every minute, even feeling disgusted by some of its more outlandish ideas. Although ambitious and different, it fails to provide any degree of intrigue or excitement, making for a truly unpleasant watch, and that’s why I’m giving Gamer a 2.3.