The team of Neveldine/Taylor (as they have been credited thus far) are fast becoming the finest purveyors of cinematic trash to the mainstream audience in some time. The duo have written and directed just three films (Crank 1 and 2, and Gamer) and written two others (the straight to video Pathology and the upcoming Jonah Hex), but that short period of time seems to have been all they needed to find their place within Hollywood's hierarchy.
They make movies that feel like video games, movies that indulge in the baser instincts where sex and violence are commonplace, where plot is secondary to visual insanity. What is even more amazing is the fine line they are able to balance on where it all holds together. You would think these films would fly off the rails and under a lesser eye they probably would.
It was just earlier this year that the two brought Crank 2: High Voltage to the screen. That movie is filled with violence, nudity, profanity, and enough mind-numbing insanity to satiate to hardest of the hardcore adrenaline junkies. The only thing is that you need not bother to keep your brain engaged. There is no need for it and it will more than likely end up splattered on the seat behind you. It is certainly something to be experienced. Is it possible for Gamer to stand up to the trashy genius of the Crank films?
Gamer has much in common with the duo's earlier films. It has the same ADD-inspired editing that should come with an epilepsy warning (like video games) and the same tendency to use off-kilter camera angle, handheld cameras, and is set in an alternate world where everything is amped up. There are some very distinct differences between the two. While this one subscribes to the hyperkinetic visual style, the story is more focused and seems like it actually has something to say.
The story feels a little like a combination of Running Man and Death Race 2000. I know there are a couple others mixed in there too, but the names are not coming to me. In any case, it it s the near future and a technology has been developed that allows people to be controlled remotely, like a computer's IP address.
The first application of the technology was a game called "Society." This allowed people to control or be controlled by others in a zone where pretty much anything goes. It is popular and controversial, considering what real people are forced to do. Then came its followup, the wildly more successful "Slayers." This is a war game whose participants are death row inmates controlled by gamers. The battle is real, the carnage is real, and the fans are most definitely real. You may wonder why any inmate would wish to participate. The answer is easy — survive 30 battles and you are freed and pardoned.