a critiQal film review Gamer (2009)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: In the not too distant future, millions worldwide tune in online to watch Kable (Butler) and hundreds of other convicts battle in "Slayers," an ultra-violent multi-player online game. When the inventor of the game (Hall) and a resistance group collide, Kable must use his extraordinary fighting skills to escape the game and save the one he loves.

494 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 28s)

Fall 2009 was quite the busy time for Mr. Gerard Butler. Not only did he star opposite Jamie Foxx in the vengeance flick Law Abiding Citizen (2009), he also starred in the ultra-violent tech-savvy Gamer – at least that’s the way the two films appeared in their previews.

Now that it’s been a couple of months since the films were in theaters, both are coming to DVD within weeks of each other. First up: Gamer. Would the film be worth seeing? Or would it make me weary enough of Butler I won’t want to press my luck again when Law Abiding Citizen (2009) lands on shelves in two weeks?

Gerard Butler, as the rather quiet, violent, Kable, seems to be right on the money to play the part of this controlled soldier. He’s shown before he’s got the stuff to make quite the action hero (300 (2006)), but he’s usually better when he’s playing the tortured actioneer, rather than the clean-cut hero, i.e. Superman or the like. He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, and fights against all odds to win the day any way he can. Kable fits right into that description, and has the tortured part down pact – he’s unable to control his own movements, and instead is subjected to the whim of a 17-year-old kid.

With Butler slipping so easily into the role that the movie is centered around, the rest of the cast falls into place pretty well around him, including Amber Valletta, John Leguizamo, Terry Crews and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (in too brief a role). True, Leguizamo’s character seems a bit of an unneeded extra, but even he manages to catch the viewer’s eye briefly during the film.

That can’t be said as much for the TV stars that flock through the film, as the viewer will probably recognize them for their TV characters (James Roday and Maggie Lawson from ““, Milo Ventimiglia from “Heroes” (TV), Kyra Sedgwick from “The Closer” (TV)), but most of them only show up briefly, so the viewer won’t lose too much by their presence.

Gamer seems to owe Crank (2006), as this film sets almost as insanely hectic a pace as that one did. Quick shots interspersed with flashes of video reminiscent of a video game tearing itself to bits make for slightly odd visuals, but the fast, frenetic pace of the film actually makes the quirky shooting effects work to the film’s advantage.

Unfortunately, while the film at first seems wildly original, the plot does fall back on quite a few cliches, and a lot of the subplots are easy to spot even from early on. Still, there is a bit of inventiveness mixed in with the pandemonium, so the film turns out to be enjoyable anyway – even though the viewer will usually be a step or two ahead of the plot.

Sure, it’s not exactly a brain twister, but if you’re looking for an action-packed ride, you just can’t go wrong with Gamer.

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