The writing/directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, responsible for the pair of Crank films, deliver an epic cartoon with a messy-mix of politics, corporate greed, mind control, internet porn, gore, bloody violence and wacky ideas. Forcing us to swallow a huge pill, Gamer oddly enough seems to work. Beginning with a title reading, "some years from this exact moment," the Gamer's overstuffed plot begins to unfold, telling the story of a world where "Gamers" can now control interactive death row inmates that serve as real-life avatars. Anonymous users fight it out on rubble-strewn battlefields in a virtual reality game. The convicts battle each other in the biggest globally viewed TV game show of all time called "Slayers." If one con makes it through 30 battles, he is supposedly released. So far no one's been that fortunate. Another game option is a neon-colored world called "Society" wherein actors in lavish, scantily clad getups wander around, commanded by Internet slouches. Here's where the desperate can whore themselves out to virtual deviants who want a taste of anything they choose, like, as you probably guessed, sexual acts. Yes, it's porn.
The subplots involve Kable (Gerard Butler), a wrongly accused man who is three battles short of obtaining freedom, his goal to be reunited with his wife (Amber Valletta) who has succumbed to a life in the world of "Society." A 17-year-old cocksure teen superstar Simon (Logan Lerman) is "playing" Kable in his swinging virtual reality pad and wants to win the big game to score tons of chicks. Then there's Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), a multi-billionaire megalomaniac who invented the brain controlling product called Nanex. "Slayers" is his brainchild and he charges the entire world to watch via pay-per-view. Commercial talk show host Gina Parker Smith (Kyra Sedgwick) has a sellout agenda and the subversive "Humanz" run by Brother (Ludicrous) are hacking into the TV, trying to dismantle the system. Butler often goes overboard, grimacing to convince us he means business. Sedgwick looks and acts hideous playing the glitter-faced Sally Jessie Raphael-gone-slut-host. In making a film that resembles Death Race, Running Man and Freejack, Neveldine and Taylor throw the kitchen sink at you. There's the standard confusing camerawork, quick cuts, aggressive swish pans, frenetic seizure-inducing visuals amidst serious narrative holes, but the film also inspires appreciation for its willingness to embrace the bizarre. Yet somehow it's most convincing when taking on more serious tones. Still proudly amoral, the gratuitous gross-out scenes and the dialogue can't rise above the second grade with the overabundance of potty-mouth humor and voluminous cursing. Basically, this movie asks the question, "What is too much power?" Drawing cartoonish parallels to our present world, the filmmakers cop out to the ultimate good- guy-vs.-bad-guy scenario. Human decency shall prevail. With stabs at topical relevance draped in trashy pop culture, Gamer exists only to provide fast, earsplitting, sexist video game violence and that's not always a bad thing. Gamer ★★✩✩✩ Starring Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick. Directed by Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor. Rated R