Gamer - A Review [Caution, contains spoilers]
It pissed me off a little with some of the early camera shots. I get they were trying to show Kable's confusion, and the chaos of the Slayers game, but it just left me disorientated, headachey, and less inclined to respond favourably to the rest of it. Conversely, I didn't mind it as much when it was demonstrating Kable's inebriation (which, really, was the point for me which tipped it from ordinary action sci-fi, to actually pretty damn good action sci-fi). The intelligence driving the plot was sharp-minded, and whilst the science might not have been perfect (as brilliant a move as it might have been, I'm a little uncertain whether a semi-digested bottle of vodka could power an ethanol-engine car as far as it did), it wasn't jarringly wrong.
So it was a good job that the rest was up to scratch. It was gritty and real in a way reminiscent of RDM's Battlestar Galactica reinvention, and seemed to follow in the cyberpunk of films like Blade Runner, Johnny Mnemonic, and (more recently) The Matrix. The sleek hi-tech veneer, such as Simon's holographic, 360-degree computer interface, was shown as the glossy paint over the gritty wall beneath that was the dirty world on the ground. And Castle's brick-covered-in-woodchip-wallpaper home was odd in the true tradition of cyberpunk sci-fi.
The social critique element comes across rather scathingly for gamers, particularly (to me) the "Society" game. I think it's sadly amusing (and true) that whenever people are given absolute freedom in a Sims-esque situation, it all turns to violence and sex... (point in fact, the fact that it seemed to be used as a sex similator for the most part, and the collective baying for blood when the soldiers opened fire in the rave-hall).
And that's not even mentioning the moral ramifications of Slayers. Frankly, I think it's realistic. If there was such a game, I don't doubt there would be hordes of hardcore gamers who would pay almost any price to play a "real" FPS. Whilst I'm not sure that legal authorities are anywhere near the acceptance that Gamer, I feel fairly sure that society's acceptance of it would be as portrayed. Which is a little worrying, to say the least...
The ending was good, but the very last part did raise questions. It seemed a little odd that Castle's minions would respond so nonchalantly to his death, and would require only a request from Kable to turn off the whole mind control malarkey. If it was so unimportant to them, then wouldn't they do it automatically? It's a minor quibble, but the ending is one of the worst places for even a minor one.
Still, a great film, and I do wish that Gerard Butler would stick to films like this (which he is a natural at, a true born action hero), rather than dallying in chick-flicks. Michael C Hall, despite playing a similar enough character to that he is famous for in Dexter, was brilliant, playing an engaging antagonist who doesn't particularly evoke much sympathy. He's creepy, but in a subtle way, and does that psychotic genius thing brilliantly, in a way reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter, which I haven't really seen the like of since. He even managed to slot, what was essentially, a music video into the film as a piece of surreal humour rather than something ridiculous and stupid.
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