Is Gerard Butler the new Jason Statham? This is the second role he's been in that seems like it was made for Statham, the first being One Two in RocknRolla, which would have been played by Statham if he wasn't busy doing War with Jet Li. This movie is made by the same guys who did both of the Crank movies, and features the same sort of gratuitous brutality and human depravity (not so extreme as Crank 2, but still pretty out there). This is not meant to be a jab at Mr. Butler at all, indeed I think very highly of his work, I like Statham too. You have to admit that there are a few similarities, namely that they both look good with their shirts off, and they've both got exotic (by American standards) accents, two things which are bound to make wives and girlfriends more amicable to seeing movies with lots of violence, blood and death with their significant others.
Okay, onto the review of the actual movie: Gamer takes place in the near future, where someone has figure out a way to alter the brain in such a way, that their actions can be controlled through a computer interface. Once this concept is applied to gaming, it becomes an overnight sensation. The initial game is basically a version of the Sims, someone logs in, and takes over a real person who's being paid to participate, and then they can walk them through a city and perform all kinds of tasks. Of course the big draw to this is sex, it's interactive pornography, verging on prostitution.
The main cashcow of this technology is a game called Slayers, which is an armed combat game, players are tasked with reaching a checkpoint in arena, of course they have to fight their way through armed assailants, and avoid all number of booby traps, and other deadly hazards. Here the participants are death row inmates, and the lure is that if they survive 50 games, they'll receive a full pardon.
Butler plays Kable, the most successful Avatar in Slayers, he's only a few games away from reaching his required 50 games, but of course it's not that easy. There's a conspiracy involving the game, and a resistance that protests against the use of the neural control.
The story's fairly fun, but don't expect anything mindblowing here, the main reason to watch this movie is to see Gerard Butler hurt some people, which he does, a lot, and very well. The guns and explosion action scenes are all well and good, but it really shines when he's unarmed and needing to put the hurt on similarly unarmed opponents.
Some slightly more spoilery thoughts on the movie, I could really have done without so many gratuitous shots of the morbidly obese gamer who controls Kable's wife in the Sims game, eating waffles by dunking them in a bucket of maple syrup with his bare hands. I have to really wonder if this, and the teenage waste of space who controls Kable are who the writers view as typical gamers.
Anyone who's as fed up with Heroes as I am will probably enjoy the brief appearance by Milo Ventimiglia and his subsequent horrible mangling. So, you know, enjoy that!