In Detail: Gerard Butler ““ a man whom I approach with a sense of curiosity and trepidation ““ is widely revered. Whether it’s his ultra-manly stubble and growl, or his Spartan roar, he seems to have acquired a large fan club. And to be honest, he did his best here. He was working with a script bereft of talent, in this case. Even Michael C. Hall, whose acting I very much do admire, struggled manfully.
Gamer is marketed as a grizzly action movie with a smattering of moral education and emotional heart-strings. Perhaps, if it had succeeded in finding the right blend of the aforementioned, it would have been passable.
However, it doesn’t. It doesn’t know what it wants to be. You can actually feel shift half-way through the movie, as it abandons the majori ty of the characters it lays down in the opening half hour. The media woman and her entourage, even Castle, fade into insignificance as the movie decides to abandon the moral core it was building, becoming instead a Cat and Mouse hunt between Gerard Butler’s Kable, and Terry Crew’s Hackman.
To give it credit, the action scenes are excellently filmed. Fast paced, full of blood and guts, it is impressively well shot. Additionally, the artistic direction for Castle’s Society virtual world is well expressed on screen. The use of colour, action and set stand out in contrast to the bleak, urban war zones of the Slavers environment. Additionally, the future technology is realistically expressed ““ the Air Gesture system used by the future personal computers highly reminiscent of the direction in which Apple is moving with their Mac interfaces.
There is little else to praise, however. The script fails absolutely in establishing what would have saved the movie from historical obscurity: an emotional message. Butler’s performance is not bad, and not unconvincing at all, but the script lacks the depth needed to properly establish the relationship with his wife and daughter. Yes, it initially uses flashbacks to intrigue us, but it fails to develop that backstory at all as the movie progresses. Instead, we’re left with Butler and his wife, who does little but look emotional. I can’t recall a single one of her lines, in truth.
The movie is supposed to challenge commericalization of violence, and the accompanying desensitization of those who engage with it as a form of entertainment. The irony, of course, is that the movie itself both commercializes violence and uses it as a form of entertainment. It’s also gloriously good at desensitizing it. With faceless heads exploding left right and centre, there’s no sense that these people are real human beings: something the first twenty minutes attempts to establish. Any good work done here is quickly undone during the second and third Slaver matches. Even John Leguizamo’s character, with whom Butler shares a few conversations with, dies in a supposedly poignant manner. The truth is, there was no emotion felt with his death. Why? Because the dialogue between Kable and Freak was so inherently bland that it failed to establish any real sense of camaraderie or friendship. Instead, we feel confused by Kable’s apparent sense of loss as Freak is riddled with holes. After all, he didn’t seem overly interested in Freak when he was alive.
Additionally, the gratuitous use of female nudity didn’t really add very much to the movie. It didn’t strike me as an attempt to highlight the increased sexual nature of future society, but rather an attempt to market it more easily to its key demographic: young men. But most young men at my cinema seemed to walk away disappointed.
It frightens me somewhat that a script of this quality can be given a reported $50,000,000 budget. Who checks these things?
On the bright side, it is a very short film.
P.S. To the fellow in the back row who managed to pull his date, I advise he seeks medical assistance for her. Any woman who finds herself romantically affected by a movie where exploding limbs hit the camera and people are stabbed, shot, licked, pillaged and taken sexual advantage of by a fat young pervert, really needs to take a long hard look at themselves.