Gamer: You don’t live to play, you play to live

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Starring: Gerard Butler, Amber Valetta, Michael C. Hall, Logan Lerman

Directed By: Mike Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall star in this near-future action/thriller movie about a multi-player online game where death row inmates fight for their freedom. Michael C. Hall plays Ken Castle, the creator of Slayers; a ‘game’ where the inmates are controlled by players in a series of ‘matches’ using a chip implanted in their brains. After surviving thirty matches, the inmate will be rewarded with freedom, but no one has ever made it past ten.

Enter Kable (Butler), an ex-soldier who is controlled by 17 year old boy Simon (Lerman) and is serving a sentence for murder. His wife, Angie, works as an actress for Castle’s first game, Society. Society is a world where people do what the hell they want, mostly engaging in some freaky sex games (almost like a more advanced and disturbing version of Second Life). As Kable begins his thirtieth match, he becomes aware that Castle will never let him leave. He must fight the system and escape Slayers in order to save his wife and daughter from the corrupt world they are trapped within.

Gerard Butler’s role isn’t particularly memorable, nor did I feel empathy towards the character, or any of the characters in fact. Whilst Hall certainly pulls off the corrupted villain, his awkward Southern accent dampens the performance. Perhaps the most interesting role was Milo Ventimiglia’s cameo appearance as the truly disgusting Rick Rape, a character in Society whose very short yet memorable appearance is really what sticks in your mind when you leave the cinema. Overall, most of the characters lack development and nothing really stands out besides Rick Rape and his lovely PVC outfit.

Gamer wasn’t great, but it was asks the question of just how realistic games can get. The idea certainly isn’t original, echoing films such as The Matrix, Running Man and Death Race. The game play sequences for Slayers weren’t at all imaginative; they were brief and didn’t grab your attention. Plenty of explosions and gunfire, nothing stood out and made me think ‘wow, that game looks awesome’. At just over an hour and a half, the film seems too short and rushed. There was plenty of opportunity to delve deeper into the plot and mix things up, but that didn’t happen. The ending let the film down more than anything else, it was rather anti-climatic and there wasn’t much build up either. The film is clearly target at a younger male audience, with plenty of female nudity and references to cyber porn in case the action sequences don’t quite hit the spot.

Whilst the concept of Gamer is interesting, the plot seems pretty empty and there aren’t any new ideas. It wasn’t awful, but it was nothing to shout about either. If you were thinking about going to see it, I’d recommend you stay home and play a decent game instead.