Before we get started, let me set the scene for you on this one. After Crank and Crank 2: High Voltage, I would’ve said that the combination of Lionsgate and writers/directors Neveldine and Taylor could have taken a collective shit in my mouth and I’d still say it was chocolate.
How very naive of me.
Let’s get this clear from the start. I did not enjoy Gamer. Whilst I often try and veer clear of making bold sweeping statements about the films I’ve been to see – choosing instead to rely solely on my experience with the film – I’m going to put my neck out here and say this:
Gamer is a mess.
Lazy writing mars the film throughout. The narrative has no real flow, and much of this is compounded by the characterisation. They might as well have called characters The StoryTeller or Dr Exposition – the cast spend so much time filling each other in on things they both already know or telling each other exactly what is going or on that it really feels they’re just doing it for our benefit – which naturally they are, but when it’s this bloody obvious it becomes a little insulting.
I can’t help but feel for Terry Crewes in amongst all this. I think he’s capable of a lot more than the roles his physique alone secures him. To see him reduced to what amounts to little more than a musclebound foil in this outing seems like a shame – especially when he’s utilised as such in such a sporadic random fashion. Again lazy writing is the root cause – he’s obviously evil because some people say he is whilst he fumes angrily at the screen, then we find out that he hasn’t got a Gamer controlling him so there’s nothing to rein in all his malevolence but then all that happens is that he randomly turns up for a bit of a lame scrap then disappears again. Although not the primary antagonist, he does have the potential to become a real psychological antithesis to Butler’s hero if only the effort had been spent in developing him as such. That’s not to say that his character is the only flawed one, more than anything he just acts as a motif for the failed investment throughout.
Cinematographically the film is akin to giving someone with ADD a camera, then giving them an IV full of sherbet. The hyperactive camera work almost feels like there’s some fear of showing you what’s happening on screen – I can understand the idea of wanting to approach the visuals from a gaming perspective, but when you constantly feel jerked away from whatever you’re looking at, only to have the same thing happen mere moments later, it becomes very difficult to get involved with the action on screen. Having said that though the films use of colour was one of the few stand out features for me – slipping easily between gritty dirt filled warzones; the clean, almost blinding penitentiary and the neon colour filled madness of Society.
Society itself – the idea of gaming Sims style through real life avatars – is an interesting concept but doesn’t ever really move much past that. It gives us a mere peek at this future’s hyper-reality but the only real impression we get out of it is that the users are all fetishistic wankers.
All in, I think that as a critique of the effect that advances in technology can (and possibly will) have on social interactions, Gamer proves itself to be more than competent, providing a brief glimpse at the dystopia that over reliance on the former could lead to. Having said that though I don’t think that was necessarily Gamer’s aim – this film was built on the concept rather than the ‘message’ – in fact the latter seems to have come about somewhat by accident. This reliance on the concept is more than evident in the narrative itself which feels like little more than disjointed vignettes tied together with sloppy dialogue and uninvolving characters.
I was so fucking bored and disengaged throughout that rather than walk away having had a great time and a new take on technological advance to boot, I thought no further of Gamer, came home and threw myself into the dull and arduous task of rearranging my itunes library.
I had more fun with itunes.