So, a bunch of death row inmates (including our hero, who was framed) are forced to battle each other to the death in a futuristic world while the whole thing is broadcast for the bloodthirsty entertainment of millions. To paraphrase the narrator of CHICKENMAN, where have we seen that plot before?
Well, in DEATH RACE, of course, not to mention any number of other movies in recent years. The trappings are a little different in GAMER – the inmates have chips implanted in their brains that allows them to be controlled by people who pay for the privilege, so they’re like characters in a violent video game, only with real blood and dying. Naturally, our hero is going to find some way to circumvent this programming, so he can go after the dastardly villain who invented the whole thing. People get blown to bits. Stuff Blows Up Real Good. I do my best not to fall asleep, but I’m not completely successful.
I really like Gerard Butler as both an actor and an action movie hero, and he tries hard here, succeeding in giving this movie what little appeal it has. Michael C. Hall as the bad guy is either brilliantly insane or ludicrously hammy and over the top; I never could quite make up my mind which. The cast isn’t really the problem, though. GAMER was written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the guys who made the CRANK movies, which I liked. This time, though, they’ve gone so far overboard with their herky-jerky camera style and hyper-quick-cut editing that long sections of this movie literally made my eyes hurt when I tried to watch them. I had to look away, and being able to actually tell what was happening was pretty much out of the question. That and the overfamiliarity of the plot just doomed GAMER as far as I’m concerned. I can’t recommend it, even to action movie fans.
I’ll still watch whatever Gerard Butler is in next, more than likely, and I’ll probably give Neveldine and Taylor another chance, too, because I think they’re interesting filmmakers. They struck out on this one, though.