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Gamer (2009)

GamerReviewed by Nomad

Starring Gerard Butler, Amber Valletta, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick, Terry Crews, Ludacris

Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor


It’s the future. A future that could very possibly happen in our lifetime. A future we’ve largely seen in movies already. Most of us that watched the trailers for Gamer got a serious Running Man vibe so needed to be sold on other levels before plunking down our hard-earned cash for another night of Neveldine and Taylor madness. Oddly, Lionsgate stuck with their war-torn trailer featuring Gerard Butler tearing things up as the disembodied head of Ludacris delivers cryptic messages, and Michael C. Hall seems to be holding rehearsals for All That Jazz. How do these flashes fit into the actual film? Read on!

From the trailer we learned that a popular game called “Slayers” holds the attention of the entire planet in its vice-like grip. Death row inmates are promised their freedom after surviving 30 games which pit them against mysterious armed forces. The catch is they are all being piloted by rabid gamers playing from the safety of their own homes. To the player, getting turned to pulp just costs them a bit of pride in their online circles. To the inmate, dead is dead. The weapons and explosions are real, as are the flying body parts, splattered grey matter, flaming corpses and even bullet-riddled NPC (that’s non-player characters for the newbs) inmates. From the film we learn that there was another game that started the “pilot your own person” craze that can only be described as the most perverted and nasty parts of Crank and Crank 2, but I won’t say any more to ruin the surprise. All you need to know is that the slimy, arrogant Ken Castle (Hall) created both games, and the only people who seem to be protesting the inevitable loss of free will are Ludacris and his Humanz who, in the fine tradition of Ice-T in Johnny Mneumonic, hacks into TV broadcasts to warn the populace.

GamerThe star of “Slayers” is Kable (Butler), who uses thoughts of returning to his wife and child to stay alive…even though he’s being controlled by a 17-year-old boy with an affinity for wearing Crank t-shirts. He’s got three more games before earning his freedom, but the game’s masters have no intention of letting him out alive. Enter Hackman (Crews), a bloodthirsty maniac who promises that, in his version of the game, it’s just Hackman vs. Kable for online glory. In a recent interview with Crews, he told us his character actually murders a truckload of people with the intention of getting thrown in jail so he can be a star on “Slayers”. I mention this because it was cut from the theatrical version, and I thought you’d enjoy the extra bit!

In that same series of interviews, Neveldine and Taylor warned us not to expect the insanity of their Crank movies as Gamer strikes a darker tone with a more cohesive, traditional rollout of the story. While all this proves true, it seems you can show a man all the information the Internet holds, but he’ll still head back for porn when you aren’t looking. This is to say, while the writers strove to provide a superior, extra bloody action flick, they still managed to inject copious amounts of breasts, golden moments of perversion at its best and even their signature “ladies in clear hanging balls”! One particularly odd “What the Fuck?” moment will either have you laughing out loud or writhing in your seat in agony until the brutality begins again. Beware the snapping. You’ve been warned. You also get a boatload of cameos that come so often even Rob Zombie would say, “Wow, that’s gratuitous.” These may be cameos predominantly from actors in previous Neveldine/Taylor films, but I’ve been around these guys and their movies enough that I spotted them every time. If you are a fan, you will, too.

Those minimal gripes aside, Gamer grabs you by the back of the head and runs you through a minefield with internal organs flying at you around every corner. Talk about a missed opportunity for 3D!!

GamerNeveldine and Taylor love taking the viewer into the action so be prepared for plenty of shaky cam through washed out scenes of extreme violence, at times so wanton it borders on biblical. None of this bothered me one bit, and in fact, I thought it played perfectly with the subject matter. The creators use dramatic music to enhance the numbness washing over the inmates playing the game as they struggle with every step…forced not to flinch after each kill. Beyond these scenes, the future is washed in high contrast so you don’t miss one deviant act. It’s slick to the point of being one big MTV video (when they still showed those).

It’s fairly pointless to talk about acting chops when half the cast are emotionless puppets. We do get some great moments with Hall, who presents us with a bad guy we TRULY would like to see hit by a bus. He’s rich, cocky, super smart, in shape and 100% evil. You’d just like to drop a train on him. Butler isn’t given much emotional content, and when he is, they don’t spend a lot of time on lingering pans across his troubled brow so we’ll give him a pass. Watching him run through this film and shower the set in red stuff is more entertaining than you might imagine and, I’ll wager, more than enough to get the ladies in those seats on opening day. I’ve also got to give honorable mention to Terry Crews, who takes a typical, over-the-top psychotic and turns him into an extremely likable baddie you’ll wish was given more screen time!

Gamer is a top of the line action/terror trip with more exploding carcasses than the latest installment of Rambo. It’s fast, mean and dirty as all hell – just the way we like those Neveldine/Taylor films. Those that get the joke will be smiling the whole way through. Those than never liked the Crank films still have a healthy helping of gore, gunfire and gratuitous breast shots to see them through. For the ladies swap out the breasts with Butler, and you’ll be right as rain.

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4 out of 5

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Nomad

14 Comments

  1. ok im not saying this movie was good…saw it…kinda pissed me off that i paid 10 bucks for it….but never diss the first crank….that movie was the shit!!!!!

  2. GAMER is, for one thing, unbelievably, unrepentantly terrible, but it is also *not* a horror film–not even a little bit–which makes me wonder why the hell it’s being reviewed here. ALL ABOUT STEVE is about a stalker, so when can I expect that review here as well?

    • It’s in the same vein as stuff like Death Race, which we also covered. It’s definitely a fine line, and one we debate constantly around the DC offices, but we figure it’s better to give people more rather than less.

  3. Man…I was really looking forward to this and here we have another Nomad positive review. This is distressing because if I like the movie, that means we agreed on two movies in a row and that makes me want jump from a bridge. If we disagree, sure, the balance has been restored, but I’ll have been incredibly disappointed by yet another movie this year. It’s lose/lose.

      • Let’s not jump to conclusions. It was one movie that most of the world thought was good. I was, however, unaware that this was made by the Crank guys and that movie was horrible. So I’m far less excited for this.

        • You thought Crank was horrible? Both it and the sequel provided some of the most over-the-top, adult-oriented entertainment I’ve *ever* enjoyed in the theatre. Where’s your sense of fun?

          • Wait, when was it officially decreed that “braindead and poorly acted” = “fun”? Hot Fuzz is fun. Iron Man is fun. Crank is awful.

          • So because I thought Crank was terrible, which it was, I have no sense of fun? I love plenty of over-the-top, adult-oriented entertainment. Just not stupid, over-the-top, adult-oriented entertainment.

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