After watching Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s two high-energy Crank movies, a venture into the world of gaming seemed like the natural progression for their fast-paced style. However their latest, a science fiction dip into the video game gene pool, is an adrenaline rush to no where full of moves we’ve seen before.
Gamer actually centers on a player. Gerard Butler stars as Kable, a death row inmate in a deadly urban deathmatch called “Slayers.” The popular global television program allows prisoners to win their freedom by fragging their way to enough victories. If it sounds like 2008′s Death Race it’s because the plot is almost identical.
At first, Kable isn’t even able to determine his own destiny. A futuristic invention gives subscribers the ability to control the actions of the not-so-virtual fighters using nanotechnology, the miniature dream devices of lazy screenwriters. He’s guided by entitled teen and first person shooter prodigy Simon (get it, Simon says…) played by Logan Lerman. Of course, Kable stages a prison break and it’s off to the (death) races.
“Slayers” and its Sims-like sister game are the brainchild of a megalomaniac mogul named Ken Castle. It’s a cheap role for the otherwise immensely talented Michael C. Hall from Showtime’s “Dexter.” His shady conspiracy has all the subtly of a Tetris block and a jazz number is as embarrassing as watching a middle-aged fat guy try to stumble his way through Dance Dance Revolution.
Kable’s wife (Amber Valletta) is trapped in his fetish-fueled world of Internet debauchery controlled by a slovenly, obese creep. Rapper/actor Ludacris plays the rogue outsider disrupting the balance to rescue “the one.” He’s like a ghetto Morpheus.
The action is frantic and choppy, the cinematic equivalent of trying to play today’s online entertainment using a dial-up modem. Interactive engineers are devising new ways for modern gameplay to be fluid and effortless, so why is a movie about it such a disorienting mess? It’s like watching the filmmakers button mashing “Cut” on the edit board for 95 minutes. Even a game of old school air hockey was shown in short attention span style.
The barrage of violence and virtual perversion jumbles into a frenetic, joyless experience even compared to Neveldine and Taylor’s previous projects. There should be attendants standing outside the theater with T-shirts reading, “I went to see Gamer, and all I got was a seizure and a T-shirt.”
1.5 out of 5.