Gamer is the type of film that makes you sit and debate the plausibility of its plot once the credits roll. You may think to yourself “it’s just a movie,” but somewhere in the back of your head the question of whether or not technology will rise to a point of being able to control others begins to loom.
Somewhere in the near future, the world has become completely intertwined with technology and baseball has fallen as America’s pastime. Now the popular video game Slayers, created by Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), rules the world. Through nanotechnology real-life death row inmates are placed in combat for a chance to win freedom as average Joes control their avatars from their own personal computer screens.
I think Confucius said it first.
John “Kable” Tillman (Gerard Butler) has become the face of Slayers and its highest ranking player with the help of Simon Silverton (Logan Lerman), a 17-year-old kid basking in the haze of popularity and recognition for controlling the popular avatar. However, when a group of rogue hackers began transmitting messages around the world that paint Castle as an evil genius waiting to control the masses, Kable is given his chance at freedom to clear his name and return home to his wife and daughter.
Gamer uses its production to remind viewers of the technologically advanced society we have evolved to become. Gamer’s writer/director duo Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor not only construct a plot that depends on technology but they also innovatively use technology to construct and depict a new world. Gamer shows a future of excess in which humans are able to live vicariously through others, controlling their every move.
The film is therefore shot digitally using graphic special effects and implementing florescent high-key lighting that creates exaggerated and synthetic looking images that reflect the film’s theme. Gamer appears oversaturated and there’s too much to look at on screen, stressing the reality of the world in which Gamer exists. For viewers who are actual video game players, Gamer is similar to watching third and first person shooters like Call of Duty and Halo; the action is quick, point of view can be changed rapidly, and combat at times is slowed down creating an exaggerated cool effect.
Imagine this guy controlled by Ghandi
The problem with Gamer, however, is how technologically aware it is at times. Because of its fast-paced motion and hand-held shaky camera movements, viewers not interested or familiar with the video gaming world may find the affects off-putting. Viewers who have suffered from seizures and motion sickness have been warned.
By the film’s ending, some form of alcohol is needed to get through the lack of stability that takes place, especially an out of place corny dance number that is started by Castle. Hall is great as the obsessive compulsive recluse Castle, however, his character isn’t strong enough nor consistent enough to be entertaining when he’s on screen. It’s hard to understand how a billionaire with obvious mental and social problems can be so charming and liked by his peers despite his quirky dickishness. Towards the end his personality seems almost clownish and at times takes away from the film.
Gamer isn’t a bad film, in fact I was pretty shocked at all the bad and mediocre reviews it received initially upon release. It’s an intriguing, intelligent story that gives a new and realistic twist to the age-old fear of technology. Gamer also impressively employs the dynamics of sound editing and mixing along with beautiful cinematography and editing that makes the film a cinematic triumph if nothing else. If you’re up for an intense action film with promises of the three B’s (blood, bullets, and boobs), then crack open a few beers and enjoy Gamer, however, if you don’t like your action with a message then sip an O’Douls and pass.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you see a nipple
Take a Drink: every time you see blood
Take a Shot: every time you crave a peanut butter and jelly sandwich