Gamer (2009)

6.0 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good concept, love Society

Poorly executed

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Gamer

Studio:  Lakeshore Entertainment

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  September 4, 2009

MPAA Rating:  R


We don’t play fair

The world has a new obsession.  Two online games have taken off and their eccentric creator Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) is now the richest man in the world.  Society allows gamers to control real people and have interactions in a social world while Slayers takes criminals to a first person shooter combat game.  With the chance of freedom after thirty rounds, the top slayer is a murderer named Kable Tillman (Gerard Butler) and his controller is a rich kid named Simon Silverton (Logan Lerman).  While Kable’s wife Nika (Amber Valletta) works in Society to try to get their child back, Kable hopes to prove himself innocent as he earns his freedom…and a group called Humanz is out to show the real truth behind Slayers and Society.

Written and direct by the duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Gamer is an action adventure thriller dipping into the popularity of MMOG games like Second Life and Call of Duty.  The movie was released to average to negative reviews and did poorly at the box office.


I do what I want!

I like what Gamer attempted and I like some of the ideas that Gamer brought up…I did not however like Gamer.  With tons of plotlines, underdeveloped characters, over-the-top characters, and a visual style that often tried too hard, Gamer just was too all over the place to work.

What I did like about Gamer is some of the sci-fi concepts of the film and particularly the Society world (which was far more interesting than the Slayers).  Slayers just felt like a hodgepodge of better action films like Battle Royale and Series 7:  The Contenders (both better films) and also received a lot of comparisons to Rollerball and The Condemned which came out in 2007.  Unfortunately, the movie also comes to a head in a really messing ending once Kable leaves the game.


Welcome to Society!

The Society portion of the film however was a fun take on the reality of these “real world” video games.  The concept that these characters are “actors” and sell themselves for the money to being controlled and the idea that this would actually appeal to some does fall in line with some of the social media hounds that are so desperate for attention…and these people (along with Slayer players) could find fame in these scenarios.

The acting is all over the place and no one really excels.  Gerard Butler is a rather bland actor in general and fortunately, he doesn’t have to stretch much here.  I usually like Michael C. Hall, but he’s too on here (intentionally).  It looks like he had fun with the role, but it doesn’t work.  Amber Valletta plays a good controlled character but her role doesn’t have much meet to it along with Logan Lerman as the spoiled Simon controlling Kable.  Kyra Sedgwick plays a reporter who seems to only like what gets her ahead and Ludacris is part of the underground Humanz movement with Alison Lohman.  There are small roles by John Leguizamo and Zoë Bell as other people caught up in the games.


Here’s a fun new game…Killer!

The visuals go from smart to extreme.  Much like the idea of Society, I couldn’t get enough of the visuals of Society with “masks” that even resembled Pris from Blade Runner being a choice for gamers.  Unfortunately, the movie is so stylized that it seems desperate and that it is trying too hard.  I can deal with some extreme visuals since it is a video game world, but things like the whole ending sequence were too much.

Gamer was so close to being a movie with some substance.  A better cast, a tweaked script, and a bit more toned down at points (and a total ending reworking) could have turned this game into an interesting social commentary.  With such potential, this movie fails a bit more than other films just in the disappointment department and now, the concept has really been ruined for future filmmakers…of course in a world of quick remakes, Gamer might get another life.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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