This is a fun film, and if you liked Crank, you'll really enjoy this.
Give this one a rental at the very least.
The film is set in 2024. The gaming industry has been revolutionized because now, instead of playing regular video games people can command prisoners to fight to the death in a "real life" video game called Slayers. If you don't feel like having convicts fight each other to the death? Well that's ok because you can also have other human beings dance around, perform dangerous stunts, have gratuitous sex or embarrass each other in a tamer game called "Society" where poor people get paid to have their bodies controlled by others. Our hero is John "Kable" Tillman (Gerard Butler), the most popular pawn in the game of Slayers. There's something sinister about this futuristic society, and if the probably evil Castle (Michael C. Hall) is to be taken down, Kable will have to take control of his own body!
What irritated me about this picture is that the story just feels like an excuse to have stuff happen. Really important elements of this world are never explained, they're just there and you have to take for granted that it works the way it does. I don't mean in the same way that a far-out premise like say... "The Running Man" either. I'm talking about stuff that could plausibly happen but is presented in a way that makes no sense. For example, the rules or goals of the Slayers game are never established. What is the objective of the game? Do the slayers have to run to a shelter before they are killed? Do you have to murder a certain amount of people? Is there a time limit? You never find out. How has Slayers revolutionized video games anyways? It's not like the players can feel what their convicts can feel, and games can't be started at any time of the day (they're televised) so how is a video game that you can pick up for cheaper, play at any time not strickly better? This is a tale that doesn't care about explaining anything or developing the world it's set in so it's really hard to care about anything that's going on. Stuff just happens so that we can have people kill each other.
I'll give the movie this: if the objective was to make a game that feels like a deplorable video game, mission accomplished! The characters actually feel like video game personalities because your immediate impression of them is everything that defines them. The villain is very obviously evil (even though it's supposed to be a mystery) for example and he does that typical thing that every bad villain does in a bad action movie. I'm just saying that you would never see Mr. Glass from "Unbreakable" pick a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger because one is a brainy villain, the other is an action hero... but that doesn't stop our Machiavellian sociopath! Kable isn't any better. He's set up as a killer but anyone with half a brain can see that this is once again, one of these movies where our anti-hero isn't an actual anti hero, he's just a good guy that's been misunderstood. Nearly every other character is totally disposable, and not the least bit memorable. Unless they're a woman because those are all killed or sexually exploited by the time the credits roll. Females in "Gamer" are more like props than actual people. I was actually really disturbed by some of the events in the film. Want a hint of some of the distasteful developments? How about I give you an easy one: there's a character called "Rick Rape" in the "tamer" Society game!
There are a few scenes that have good action segments and there are a couple of laughs here and there but there's no real audience for this movie. You would think that this action film would be made to cater to video game enthusiasts, but they're all portrayed as unlikeable sexual deviants that would willingly sexually assault or murder human beings for kicks. "Gamer" goes out of its way to show how horrible it is to get entertainment out of seeing human beings being killed, so people who revel in violence and gore (fans of action or horror movies) won't get much entertainment out of this lecture either. There's no need to see this when there are actual good movies based on the same concept easily available. I came to thoroughly hate "Gamer". (Dvd, July 14, 2012)