(Courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment)
Welcome to the future; where Slayers, a multiplayer third-person shooter game, where death row inmates are used at avatars for gamers is all the rage. The participants are allowed to compete, and if they're able to complete 30 missions, they're set free. The most notable Slayer is Kable (Butler), who stands just a three missions away from his 'freedom' and is controlled by Simon (Logan Lerman).
Slayers is the brainchild of Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), who after its creation, virtually became the richest man in the world. The world is his stage, Kable is his finest puppet and there's no way he's going to let his puppet upstage him.
Meanwhile, Humanz, an activist organization, is attempting to inform people about Castle and his desire for his control to well beyond the game. They offer up a way for Simon to talk to Kable, who informs his gamer to unleash him for his 30th and final campaign.
Kable escapes during his final mission, although the public is told he was killed, and is taken to the Humanz leader (Chris "Ludacris" Bridges), who explains the mind control technology. He also learns that his wife works in the Sims-style game called Society as an avatar and sets out to rescue her and find their daughter.
All of this leads to a final confrontation between Kable and Castle, who we learn has become Kable's daughter's foster father. Castle attempts to force Kable to kill his daughter, who resists and ultimately turns the technology on Castle, granting him the freedom he's desired.
Gamer is exactly what you've come to expect from Neveldine and Taylor. It's superfast, raw and rivals any Tarantino flick in blood count. This duo is two of the most exciting filmmakers moving up the ranks of Hollywood today. I just hope they will also operate on a minuscule budget.
Butler gives a nice performance as Kable, mixing flatout masculinity of a fighter with the sensitivity of a caring father. Anyone who thinks he's not a good actor, take a look at his eyes and see how much is working behind them.
The performance of the film belongs to Hall. He's devilishly creepy as Castle, which is quickly becoming his calling card. His television credits include 'Six Feet Under' and 'Dexter' and show just how creepy he can be. When he began dancing and singing when Kable enters his mansion toward the end of the film, it sent shivers trickling down my spine.
The DVD features some quality special features. "Inside the Game" is three, 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurettes that focus on all the aspects of the film. There's also a featurette on the evolution of the Red Camera, the lightweight, low-cost camera system Neveldine and Taylor utilized to film "Gamer". A commentary by the filmmakers gives some nice insight to the flick as well.
Final Cut: Gamer is not a great film, but it is great entertainment. It's a flick that keeps your eyes darting across the screen, and at times, struggling to keep up. You could give Neveldine and Taylor a camera phone and $25 bucks and they'd deliver a better-looking product that would take Hollywood millions to produce. We need to keep an eye on these two filmmakers.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Logan Lerman, Amber Valletta, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges
MPAA Rating: R for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language
Runtime: 1 hr. 45 min.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate Entertainment