Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Stars: 6.5
Score: 78.50
I went into Gamer with fairly moderate expectations, but I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the film. The basic plot is just that, basic. Through a nano-cell implantation process, Death Row convicts may be controlled by gamers at home in a heavily armed battle to the death. Simply surviving 30 battles earns a convict their freedom, but it’s not happened yet.

Gerard Butler plays one such convict, nearing his 30 battle cap. We, the audience, like the guy a lot, even though he’s a death row inmate. Of course, Butler’s character is a good guy, and when we find out he was wrongly convicted, we’re free to love him even more. In terms of story development, the film doesn’t have a great depth, and final resolution is fairly lackluster. Overall, however, the movie is fun to watch, and deals pretty well with some interesting ideas.

Thematically, the film deals with the effects of a hypermediated environment, and the diminishing value of human life and human dignity. The human avatars in the Slayer death battles are portrayed as inhuman, death row scum who deserve nothing better, but they aren’t the only avatars. There’s another massively multiplayer online role playing game, called Society, where the avatars are ordinary people who are paid to give up control of their bodies, and then subjected to the most depraved situations with other similarly controlled avatars.

There’s a slippery slope presented, where the limited lack of control can become a complete lack of control. There’s always a difficulty in trying to develop these types of ideas in a film such as this, where a lot of focus is on the aesthetic of the film. However, the themes of conformity, autonomy and technological isolationism are dealt with well, if briefly. All in all, a worthwhile way to spend an hour and a half.

Review Date: 2010-06-14

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