Gamer is game enough. It's a genre mishmash from Neveldine and Taylor, who did the Crank movies with Jason Statham, and it's an entertaining play on Death Race meets WestWorld or The Matrix, and, of course, video games.
Gerard Butler "stars," but he's mostly a Jason Statham-wannabe, still, this is effective, as much of the time he is playing a flat video game character named "Kable," and the rest of the time he mostly grunts and participates in more action scenes which require mostly grunting. Statham would probably not have been able to curtail his charisma enough to pull off the role quite as well.
It's also mostly okay because of more entertaining performances from Logan Lerman as Kable's player, Michael C. Hall as the crazy Gipetto geek/CEO of the company which controls people's minds so they can be used as puppets in various sleazy or life-threatening situations, and Famke Janssen as Kable's wife, who "stars" in another sleazy fantasy world video game--or wait, it wasn't Famke Janssen, it was Amber Valletta, but doing an excellent, Meryl Streep-quality Famke Janssen impersonation.
It's a total Death Race set-up, as Kable is a death row prisoner who can escape from the televised war video game in which he stars if he and his player can win just a few more rounds. Of course, for various reasons, the creators of the game do not want this to happen.
The scenes of the video games themselves are pretty convincing, well done in that they seem a lot like watching real video games (which I, in fact, enjoy more than playing them). And there's kind of a Neuromancer quality to the virtual-reality Internet as portrayed here, with Lerman's cyberden as the center of an entertainment/celebrity frenzy as Kable gets closer and closer to his freedom.
Ludacris plays a cyber-freedom activist whose group, the Humanz, seems to have some impressive hacking skills and an interest in seeing Kable make it through the game. The idea of this is more entertaining than the way it is actually depicted, and Ludacris's nom de acting continues to describe his acting abilities a little too well.
There's a quite ridiculous production number for when Kable finally breaks into Michael C. Hall's character's HQ and attempts to confront him over the way he's controlled his and his wife's lives for the past few years, but Hall does not betray that he knows how ridiculous it is at all, and that makes it kind of fun.
Gamer is not a great movie, but it's all right. It has a pretty fun time playing out the cards it's dealt, and even has a bit that's relevant to say about its premise. Not a bad time at the movies in all.
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