I’m going to guess that the film company sat down with Neveldine and Taylor and asked them to make something “not so crazy”. So the guys gave them Gamer, which is just as wacked out as anything else they’ve done, but no one has public sex. Crank and Crank: High Voltage play like untainted id pieces, where everything Neveldine and Taylor wanted to happen happened. Gamer is fairly conventional in comparison, yet still features a character named Rick Rape. You can’t rein these horses.

You might have heard that Gamer is a ripoff of The Running Man. Sure, fine. Steal from the best I always say. The twist is that this time people actually control the players. The game is called Slayers and it features death row inmates who are remotely controlled by players. Live action video game basically, with live ammo and all that. Michael C. Hall is Ken Castle, the creator of the game and its predecessor, Society. In both games, people control other people. In Slayers, you control a killer in a game of kill or be killed on the way to the checkpoint. In Society, you control a person and basically make them do whatever you want. Gerard Butler is Kable, the best player in Slayers and the closest to winning his 30 games to freedom. The plot features plenty of familiar elements that has put off some people, but I enjoyed Neveldine and Taylor’s various tweaks.

Those tweaks include but are not limited to; villains who break out into song and dance, a child services worker who can’t contain his laughter, jokes about Barbara Walters being dead, and a steadfast refusal to not have the camera positioned in any typical way. There is a touch of Bay-ian style here, but with too many details and entirely too much wit. I particularly enjoyed the character of Simon, Kable’s seventeen year old controller. Actually played by a seventeen year old, I’d like to engage in hyperbole and say he’s the most realistic teenage boy to ever appear in a film. His use of slang is pretty accurate, his choice of video games over sex is so very very true, and he’s kinda funny without being that funny.

Gamer (Simon & Kable)

Michael C. Hall steals the show as Ken Castle, a sort of good ol’ boy Bill Gates with a jocular demeanor that is a perfect accompaniment to his less than savory goals. He’s the kind of guy who’ll give you a big hug just to stab you in the back. For all the Pathology fans out there, many of its cast members have small roles in Gamer, most notably Milo Ventimiglia as the aforementioned Rick Rape. I gotta admit, it showed some range from a guy I figured had none.

I think some were expecting Neveldine and Taylor to rewrite the action movie template with this one, which is silly since they already did that twice already with the Crank franchise. Gamer is more of a lark, with Neveldine/Taylor indulging in their love of video games and getting a chance to blow up some cars. I’d like to guess what their next thing will be, but I couldn’t even begin to predict it. Well, except that it’ll be great.


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