You'd be hard pressed to find a more misjudged film released in 2009 than Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's frenetic, choppy, messy and, a lot of the time, boring Gamer. Walking a line between blurry action flick and one with a message, in its attempt to be both, it subsequently ends up being neither. And it just makes it all the more disappointing that it has such a great premise.
Gamer is set sometime in the near future when the ultimate form of "entertainment" has been created and is showcased worldwide – a game in which the players control real people, instead of just pieces of code. Those being played are, naturally, the waste of spaces of society, the criminals that are on death row and are thus disposable. At the centre of the film is Kable – played by the gruff, tough and heroic-looking Gerard Butler – who is attempting to get to the level of 30 games won at which point he'll be released and can get back to his wife and daughter (of course he has a family…).
What promises to be an action-packed extravaganza reminiscent of Neveldine and Taylor's two Crank movies ends up being a mess of bullets, bodies and overly preachy and obvious humanistic and political messages. And just as you're getting over all of this being thrown at you, the movie ends. The directing duo employ a lot of the same crazy techniques they did in the Crank movies but somehow none of the flair is to be found here.
With a diverse cast wasted, underwhelming action sequences and misjudged (and, indeed, mixed) messages make for a severely disappointing motion picture. It's not terrible, but with all the potential Gamer had, it's disappointing to find that it's never able to deliver on it.