Gamer (2009) movie poster

(2009) dir. Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
viewed: 01/26/10

Having a penchant for bad science fiction, I’m apt to pick up lots of movies that would pass quickly by most people without even a blink of an eye, and with some of them, I just put them in my Netflix queue and wait for them to hit DVD.  And then I forget much about them until they show up in my mailbox.  And such was the case with Gamer.

I want to say that there is a semi-interesting idea inside of the film.  A guy creates a technology that allows people’s brains to be manipulated by others, meaning a la Being John Malkovich (1999), a “player” plays puppetmaster to a real person’s body.  Initially this plays out in a Sims / Second Life gaming world where people grab an avatar and play crazy.  And the avatars are people who basically sort of prostitute out their brains and bodies.  But the next level, the next game, is called “Assassins” or something where hardened death row inmates submit to play a series of deadly battles against one another (and if one of them survives 30 “missions”, they are freed), kind of like a modern version of Death Race 2000 (1975) .

But what I should have realized, if from nothing else the hyperactive editing and chaotic visual and narrative style, is that this film comes from Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, who are the creators of Crank (2006) and Crank: High Voltage (2009).  Whereas those films are literally about the over-the-top vivification of adrenaline and action, Gamer actually has a little more story to it.  And their particular brand of film-making which could cause epileptic seizures in the mellowest of people, really is sound and fury and hyperbolic editing signifying perhaps a lack of anything else.

Starring Gerard Butler, who splashed into the world with his starring role in 300 (2006) and his 300 abdominal muscles, here is almost simply an avatar too, a character without persona, just a cog in the game, in the film.  And the villain, played by Michael C. Hall, who is supposed to be something quite special from the television show Dexter, is a hambone psychobilly of a character, fittingly cartoonish, but largely just really really really bad (in all applications of the term).

Not to say that there is nothing here, but it’s still more of a headache-inducing piece of crap more than anything.  Again, where the Crank films work essentially because they are just about the crazy, pulse-pounding, stupid spectacle of it all, you can kind of go with the flow, but here, where it’s all just a lot of crazy visuals and blink-blink editing, the film’s lack of humanity and heart really taxes the viewer without anything in return.

Hey, I know, I’m the one who said I liked bad sci-fi.