Gamer is Deviant Fun

Category: Gamer Reviews | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: September 10, 2009 | Publication: East Tennessean | Author: Matthew Jeffers
Publication/Article Link:East Tennessean

The movie "Gamer" is the most brilliantly hilarious, beautifully disturbing and dangerously mind-warping action-thriller I have seen in years. Your brain will melt. You will be offended. And you will love every moment it.

The plot has all the prerequisites of a sci-fi thriller: Sometime in the future, an evil super-corporation, run by a delightfully mad genius, decides to implant mind-controlling nano-machines into the brains of death row inmates.

And the twist? Bored teenagers can pay a monthly subscription to "control" these murderers and rapists through different warzones in a game called "Slayers." A building-sized advertisement shouts: "'Slayers' gives the gamer full control of a human being in full-scale combat!" If a con survives 30 battles without getting fragged, he's set free.

At the center of this scheme is evil super-corporation CEO, billionaire and 'Slayers' creator: Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall, TV's "Dexter"), who develops a diabolical plot to take over the world.

And the only obstacle in his way? Why, only the best "Slayer" of all time.

Meet Kable (Gerard Butler, "300"). He's been framed for murder and is forced to compete in "Slayers." So far he's butchered his way through to Battle No. 27. Now, Kable's only hope is that his gamer can keep him alive long enough to reunite him with his wife and daughter. The question is: Who is playing Kabel?

"Gamer" directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor ("Crank" 1 & 2) have created an aggressive child of cyberpunk-action and nerdcore. Technophiles rejoice! This is your crack-laced nepenthe.

Directors "Neveldine/Taylor," (as the duo are know professionally) I believe, are destined to become movie legends. People will talk about them as we now do Quinton Tarantino and James Cameron. But first they have to overcome their faults. This movie is far from perfect and it fails in a few critical areas. Like "Crank", "Gamer" suffers from thoroughly underdeveloped characters and clumsy expository sequences. The biggest disappointment to me, though, was the cheap ending. An "Unrated" home release will hopefully smooth out these wrinkles.

Now for the good news: When "Gamer" gets something right, it pushes, punishes and pummels the envelope.

"Gamer" is on par with "Minority Report" in it's calculated futurism, but "Gamer" doesn't have the cold, sanitized feel of "Minority Report." Desensitized, jaded, oversexed and overkilled as they may be, the characters of "Gamer" have life to them, despite their total artificiality, and the film plays on that paradox many times.

There are several heady and important issues that are brought up in passing in this film: the possibility of a global mono-culture, the value differences and potential future conflict between humanists and Tran humanists, as well as the morality and ethics behind a mass-use, nano-machine-based neural network (aka "Metal Gear Solid 4").

It's in the second act of "Gamer" that we begin to interact with the various layers of the world's culture: the world(s) outside of "Slayers." We learn there are other gaming communities besides "Slayers" and we're introduced to a glossy and obnoxious 'Sims' parody called "Society."

In "Society," adults pay to control and experience life as energetic and attractive young people (mostly women). The "Society" sets and art design were brilliantly created on "Gamers" shoestring $20 million budget. In "Society" the denizens strut around in hyper-stylized versions of Harajuku fashion and, all day long, they dance, party and screw. After a few scenes you realize that this world is just as depraved as the hollow battlefield world of "Slayers."

'Gamers' is refreshingly self-aware. Unlike "Taken" and "Live Free or Die Hard" the directors didn't water down the whisky. They wisely chose to keep the brutality at "R," opting to embrace videogame violence to help create more visceral movie violence. They raise the stakes by adding the surprisingly fragile bodies of real people to the outlandish scenarios commonly found in modern action, FPS and war games.

For anyone looking for a twisted good time, go see "Gamers."


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