Reviewed by G. Williamson
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-01-14 DVD Movie M (Mature) Lionsgate / Lakeshore Entertainment

What if gamers were able to control other real people in a virtual world? That's the premise of Gamer, a movie that definitely takes videogames to an entirely new and extreme level.

An action-packed sci-fi movie, the plot in Gamer centers around Kable (Gerard Butler, "300"), a "character" in a massively multiplayer game where convicts become avatars and players are all real people. This popular phenomenon is Ken Castle's creation (played by Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"), a billionaire now more rich and famous than Bill Gates. In Slayers there are no continues and no extra lives. People pay to play as one of the convicts (called I-cons), and if they live, they can earn their freedom. If they die, it's game over... in real life.

Controlling Kable is Simon, a 17 year-old gamer who has basically become a star due to his fantastic performance controlling Kable in this game. Kable has been the winner several weeks in a row, and hopes to be set free and reunited with his family when he wins. If he wins.

The game focuses on interesting aspects of technology, society, and gaming. A certain type of nanotechnology is implemented in the I-con's brain, which makes them controllable by someone else through a gesture-based system (Project Natal, if you will, in a shooter setting). Those I-cons who are not being controlled by gamers become NPCs (Genericons) and are entirely A.I.-controlled during the matches, so you will see some of them in different clothing roaming around doing whatever random task. The rules in Slayer are simple: as a Genericon, survive one round to earn your freedom; as an avatar, you must live through 30.

The focus of the movie is definitely on Slayers and its increasing popularity, but we also get an interesting look at Society. This is another massively multiplayer game, something like The Sims or Second Life. Again, people pay to play as other people, which in turn are being paid to be used as avatars. It's like acting, only someone else is doing the acting for you.

The thing is, Society isn't a virtual world, it's all very real. So when someone selects an avatar's clothes, that person will be shown wearing them. When they speak, that person will be forced to say whatever they say. But the feelings will still be the person's own, and not the gamer's.

Ironically, when you see scenes of Society in action, you get to see nicknames hovering above each person's head, and yes, most of them are your typically stupid online names. And you bet, there's definitely a big fat slob pretending to be a hot chick.

Plenty of action, tons of explosions, blood, gore and nudity could sum it up for Gamer. There are some extremely far-fetched scenes in there too that make it a bit too over-the-top. And I admit that I wasn't too fond of the camera work, the quick flashes of images and shaky transitions, nor the repetitive seizure-inducing light flashes.

However, I found the story interesting (even if predictable) and I think that is mostly because it's something that we could see the future of gaming turning into, and what happens when such power is given to the wrong person. If you play videogames, you should sit and watch it. I can't guarantee you will love it, but I definitely found it worth my hour and a half.