Rated R for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language, 95
Excessively loud and violent "Gamer" has been seen before
The violent, blaring new futuristic action thriller "Gamer" is headache-inducing to the point of making you cringe at every turn. Mindlessly entertaining and overly stylistic for the sake of being stylistic, it's a rip-off of many futuristic movies, including "The Matrix" and especially last year's "Death Race," a flawed but far better film. Wildly uneven and non-acted except in grunts and growls, it has a decent cast headlined by "300's" Gerard Butler, who along with his recent, terrible romantic comedy "The Ugly Truth" he did this summer, is quickly becoming the overrated actor of the year, taking over for Jessica Alba and Dane Cook.
"Gamer" is a near-future action/thriller whose main character is Kable (Butler) as the champion of a wildly successful on-line game called "Slayers". Mind-control technology has taken society by storm and "Slayers" allows humans control other humans in mass-scale, multiplayer online game. Kable's ultimate challenge becomes regaining his identity and launching an attack on the system that has imprisoned him.
Any inmate who lives through 30 matches wins his freedom. Simon (Logan Lerman) controls Kable by having won 27 matches and lived through them all, with his every move tracked by millions. Kable's ultimate challenge becomes regaining his identity, family and independence by defeating the game's mastermind (Michael C. Hall).
"Gamer" is written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the team behind the annoying "Crank" films. The premise is a provocative, intriguing one but badly mishandled under their guidance. "Gamer" is so excessively loud, violent, uneven and predictable that it makes "Transformers 2" actually look, well almost, good. Butler grunts, growls and screams his way through his lines with such a scowl that it's a wonder that "300" was such a hit.
Some films (like "300," for instance) can win audiences with style, form and little depth, but "Gamer" is overloaded with style, blood and gratuitous violence. Some of it's entertaining, but most of it will make your cringe after about just a minute or two, including a mind-numbing opening not to mention the busy, noisy and overextended finale that will have you reaching for your Aleve (much like those terrible "Crank" films that are somehow regarded as entertainment).
Outside of Butler, an expansive, talented cast is wasted in "Gamer." Ludacris, John Leguizamo, Kyra Sedgwick, Terry Crews and Alison Lohman have so little footage (Ludacris doesn't even appear until about an hour in the film), they make little impression. The charming Lerman should've had more footage, while the normally excellent Michael C. Hall from "Dexter" and "Six Feet Under" wildly overacts in a ludicrous Southern accent.
With lots of special effects, energy and explosions, "Gamer" will likely be the weekend's big hit and officially begin the fall movie season. This, coupled with the equally awful "All About Steve," has us hoping that there's far better movies headed our way.