Some time in the not so distant future, video games will allow a gamer to control a real, live person instead of a computer generated avatar. Two of the most popular games of this type are Society, a Sims type game in which beautiful, desperate people are paid to let others control them from the comfort of their weight-stressed computer chairs. The second game, Slayers, is broadcast weekly and features death row inmates who have signed up to be controlled by game players in death match skirmishes against other death row inmates. The controller gets the fame and celebrity status while the prisoner, if he wins 30 rounds, is awarded a full pardon. Kable (real name Tilman), the current game leader and crowd favorite, has been kicking ass in concert with his 17-year-old controller, Simon. They are on the eve of winning the game but Slayer’s creator, Ken Castle, has different plans for Kable that do not include winning, and much more sinister plans for the rest of the world.
The directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank . Crank 2) are back with another frantic, shaky-cam action film full of some pretty good ideas, but executed so poorly I left undewhelmed and sporting a brand new headache. Gerald Butler plays Kable (because Jason Statham was unavailable?), a man on death row for a crime he kinda committed. He has lost contact with his wife and daughter while incarcerated so as a last resort, signed on to Slayers in hopes of winning the game, getting out of prison and reuniting with his family. His controller is a cocky, rich teenager named Simon (Logan Lerman) and very good at the game although desensitized from media access overload and unsympathetic to the real lives he is killing in the game through Kable.
I enjoyed the film most when focused on the game of Slayers, even if the action scenes were edited in such break-neck fashion it almost seemed like cheating. There were a lot of interesting aspects here, it’s just too bad that Neveldine and Taylor plowed through them in a series of 10 second action scenes strung together. There are times during these scenes where you will have a hard time figuring out what the hell is happening, who just go killed, and wish – for the love of all that is decent – someone hold that goddamn camera still!
The violence is high in Slayers with loads and loads of gunshots, explosions and copious amounts of gibs. Shame they didn’t flesh the game out a bit more. Maybe spend some time focusing on the morality of it all. Maybe even focus on the blood-thirsty viewers who make the show the most watched show on television. It doesn’t have to be Oscar caliber stuff, but dedicating a bit of time on this and some of the game mechanics would have paid off more than wasting time on Castle’s, the supposed genius, idiotic attempts to get rid of Kable, his overall motives and of course – the game of Society.
Besides Society being the first game to use the nanite technology used in Slayers, it is also the game that Kable’s wife, Angie (Amber Valletta showing off one real, nice ass) has been whoring herself out in as a playable character. Unfortunately, the game of Society is showcased as much, if not more, than the game of Slayers. Wanna know why I had issues with that? Here, take a look at Deee-lite’s video for Groove is in the Heart:
Ok, now add a good dash of T&A and a shitload of hedonism and you have an idea of how Society is represented in the film. It’s a self-contained Sodom and Gomorrah populated with e-tards and those assholes you see at raves with pacifiers and glowsticks. It is more annoying than the Family Guy’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man commercials. It’s not that I thought this was not an accurate representation of how future MMORPG’s could look like if people were able to control real people in the game. Hell, we all have heard about Second Life and the dumbass crap that goes on there. I just wish they would have quit showing Society as it looked to the person playing the game and gave us a real look at the surroundings in an outside-looking-in perspective. All the zany camera work and quick zooms towards bare tits and asses were fine the first time the game was shown. It didn’t need to be done every single time Gamers delved into the world of Society. Which it does. A lot. I also found the way videogame players were portrayed to be a tired, cliched portrayal that was insulting to gamers.
Even Michael C. Hall couldn’t save this one for me. I liked his character in the film, but like the rest of of the movie they touch on an interesting topic, but then skip right past it. Nothing wrong with a little discussion on singular corporations holding the reigns on technology being used by most of the world. But instead, Castle was rendered a James Bond bad guy with a plan just as convoluted and ridiculous as one. Hell, he even explains his plan like a Bond villain a little after the dance number he performs. The second impromptu musical performance in the movie – the first being performed by Hackman (Terry Crews) a psychopath sent into Slayers to kill Kable. Throw in Humanz, the cyberpunk freedom fighters led by Ludicrous, and a talk show host (Kyra Sedgwick) trying to get to the bottom of the story and you have a lot of crap going on with opportunities for far more interesting topics all thrown out so we can see even more Society.
If you enjoy the Crank films or found Death Race enjoyable then you will probably really like this. It’s almost identical. I didn’t enjoy Gamer for the same reasons why I have not liked Neveldine and Taylor’s last couple films. Like a lot of video games out there, interesting stories and concepts take a backseat to excess with too much focus on style and very little on substance. What can I say. I found it all too silly and geared towards an age group the film wasn’t rated for in the first place.