117. Gamer (2009)

Gaming without the control

5/10
Directed by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Written by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall and Ludacris

In the not so distant future, simulation in the gaming world gets a lot more real when people can pay to have absolute control over other people’s bodies. While this real-life Sims phenomenon is called ‘Society’, the game ‘Slayers’ allows players to control death row inmates in a fight to the death that will promise them release if they survive all 28 levels. With the help of an underground rebellion group called Humanz, John Tillman (Butler) – the only inmate closest to release – must bend the rules in order to escape the puppet-master control of ‘Slayers’ creator, Ken Castle (Hall).

If this movie turns into a gaming franchise I'm out

With this premise, Gamer loads up on some pretty heavy concepts involving morality, media ethics and violence. But without a compelling plot progression, Gamer loses its potential as a thought-provoking and original action-thriller as it over-extends its chase sequences, simplifies its explanations and skims over the ideas that deserve more depth and attention. While the casting of Michael C. Hall has its moments of zany brilliance with some rather surreal and dramatically distinct representations of his evil character, and Gerard Butler’s instant likeability as a wrongfully accused hero works for the film, Gamer fails to convey its story powerfully beyond action sequences and gritty visual direction. Choosing to take the more comfortable and predictable route, Gamer could have had a greater effect on the way audiences perceive technological advancement, the ethics behind gaming, and the media saturated society we see today. Instead, it proves that a good idea can go down the drain when the controls are placed in the wrong hands.

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