Butler on the Game
In 1987 we had "" with Arnold Schwarzenegger playing Ben Richards who finds himself the innocent man in a brutal game of survival broadcast to the masses. Then in 2007 we got "The Condemned" where we had a group of criminals transported to an island where they must fight till the last man standing gets freedom. And then in 2009 we got "Gamer" where once again we have criminals having to fight not only for survival but also the chance of freedom except this time we have the gimmick that these humans are controlled by gamers. It's a nice embellishment on a well used storyline except what we get in "Gamer" is style over substance and unfortunately with the quick fire edits and split second titillation it doesn't work.
Some time in the future entrepreneur Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has created a way where humans can control other humans and so allowing those who enjoy playing computer games the opportunity to control real humans in the fake reality of his game "Society". He has also created "Slayers" a real life shoot-em-up where criminals are controlled by players and if the criminal completes 30 missions they get their freedom. With just a few missions to go Kable (Gerard Butler - The Ugly Truth) is hugely popular with the public, tuning in to watch his and his controller Simon's (Logan Lerman) amazing run. But will Kable and Simon be allowed to complete all their missions.
For about two or 3 minutes "Gamer" grabs your attention, we are taken into the game zone as we watch Kable run through a city battle field and as we discover is being manipulated by his controller getting him to the save point. But after that initial interest "Gamer" then seriously struggles to keep hold of your attention to the point that barely 20 minutes in to the movie I already found myself clock watching.
So what went wrong? well to start with there is the action and this can only be described as stupidly frenetic editing. I would imagine when we are taken in to the game zone, be it "Society" or "Slayers" the average shot length was less than a second it is that snappy. But it makes it hard work to watch and also makes the impact of the action muted because it looses the power when a big explosion is cut into many snappy edits. It also means that when in "Society" it becomes little more than titillation with snappy brief edits of nipples and lesbian activity. And when we don't get snappy edits we get a seriously out of place and cringe worthy musical number, yes I did say musical number.
But the look is not the only problem because when it comes to the actual storyline "Gamer" is dull. Now there is the less than subtle message about society but what we get is the routine man, Kable who in truth is innocent and the corrupt businessman Castle who is manipulating everyone from his ivory tower. It is dull and when combines with a lot of snappy editing makes it pointless to follow. It is a case that someone took an old concept of the public loving a futuristic game, giving it the twist of humans controlled like computer games and that was it.
Because "Gamer" not only suffers from a boring storyline but also over enthusiastic editing the cast fail to make any impression. Gerard Butler stomps through the movie all big arms and growling but that is it whilst Logan Lerman as Simon his controller unfortunately comes across as bit of a dick. And what is surprising is that there are quite a few well known names in "Gamer" aside from Butler and Lerman, there is Kyra Sedgwick, Alison Lohman, Terry Crews, Ludacris and Michael C. Hall and in the end it is Hall who is the only one who makes any impression because as Castle he is weird.
What this all boils down to is that "Gamer" doesn't work. The idea of humans controlling other humans in a computer game style way is a nice touch but that is it as beyond that the dull storyline and over enthusiastic editing is a mess.