Gamer (film)

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Theatrical poster
Directed by Neveldine/Taylor
Produced by
Written by Neveldine & Taylor
Music by
Cinematography Ekkehart Pollack
Edited by
  • Peter Amundson
  • Fernando Villena
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • September 4, 2009 (2009-09-04)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million
Box office $40.8 million[1]

Gamer is a 2009 American science fiction action film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.[2] The film stars Gerard Butler as a participant in an online game in which participants can control human beings as players, and Logan Lerman as the player who controls him. Gamer was released in North America on September 4, 2009, and the United Kingdom on September 16, 2009.


In 2024, inventor and professional computer programmer Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has revolutionized the gaming industry with his self-replicating nanites that replace brain cells and allow full control of all motor functions by a third party. Castle's first application of this technology is a game called Society, which allows gamers to control a real person in a pseudo community (much like The Sims or Second Life). This allows players to engage in all manner of debauchery, such as deliberately injuring their "characters" and engaging in rough sex with random people. As a result, those who work as "characters" in Society are paid very well in compensation.

Slayers, Castle's second creation, is also a success. The "player characters" in this game are death-row or life imprisoned inmates, who use real weapons to fight televised battles on specially created battlefields. Any inmate who survives 30 matches earns his freedom. The game also have "Non-player characters", filled in by minor offenders who follow pre-programmed path that they cannot deviate from. The game is known for a lag problem, a small but dangerous delay between the players' control and character' responses; also, no communication is allowed between the characters and players. Although the players control the inmates during movement, the inmate himself decides when he will shoot. John "Kable" Tillman (Gerard Butler) is recognized as the best Slayer and crowd's favorite, having survived 27 matches. He is exclusively controlled by Simon (Logan Lerman), a seventeen-year-old superstar gamer from a wealthy family.

The technology and the games are not without controversies, and an activist organization called "Humanz" claims that Castle can use the nanite technology to control people against their will.

As his 30th victory draws near, Kable finds the odds stacking against him. A new inmate, Hackman (Terry Crews), taunts him, bragging that he is not controlled by any players and has complete freedom on the battlefield. Kable is warned by Humanz activist that Castle has no intention of letting him live, and that escape is the only option. The activist takes a sample of his blood. Meanwhile, Simon is contacted by the activist, is provided with illegal mods allowing him to talk with Kable during the game and to relinquish control over his character.

In Kable's 30th game, he convinces Simon to let him control himself, and escapes the deathmatch arena. News outlets report that Kable has been fragged, which puts Simon in a difficult position: he is labelled a "cheater", locked out of his bank account, and under police investigation for helping Kable escape.

Tillman is found by Humanz activist Trace (Alison Lohman), who was the one contacting him in prison. She takes him to the Humanz leader Brother (Ludacris) and Dude (Aaron Yoo). They explains to him the danger of Castle's mind control technology. Tillman searches for Angie, who has been working as a character in Society, and breaks her out. They return to the Humanz who are able to deactivate the nanite cells in Angie's brain. It is then revealed that Tillman was part of the original experiment to use nanites in the brain. In an experimental session, Tillman (controlled by Castle) fatally shot his close friend Scotch, which landed Tillman on death row. Tillman volunteered for "Slayers" so he would have a chance to be set free.

Upon learning that Castle adopted his young daughter, Delia (Brighid Fleming), Tillman infiltrates his mansion to get her back. He locates Castle, who taunts him and revealing that his henchmen killed Trace, Brother and Dude. He then controls the inmates to attack Tillman, who kills them all. Tillman then faces Hackman, now under Castle's control, and easily kills him. Castle then reveals that Tillman is still under his control, and savagely beats him. Angie and Delia are brought in to witness the scene. Castle forces Tillman to kill his own daughter, but he resists the command.

Unbeknownst to Castle, Trace and Gina escaped his henchmen, and broadcasts their confrontation across the country, exposing Castle and his plans. Enraged, Castle prepares to kill Tillman with a knife. Tillman, while resisting, tells Castle to imagine the knife going into his own stomach. Castle unconsciously does, and is killed by Tillman.

The movie closes with the Tillman family taking a trip down a country road, ending with the words "Game Over".



In May 2007, Lakeshore Entertainment re-teamed with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the creators of Crank (2006), to produce a "high-concept futuristic thriller" called Game. Neveldine and Taylor wrote the script for Game and were slated to direct the film, while actor Gerard Butler was cast into the lead role.[3]

Production took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a 53-day shoot. Filming was at the Albuquerque Studios and on location around Albuquerque. Multistory sets were built on parking lots in downtown Albuquerque to depict buildings that were blown up in the film, and other sets were built on the back lots near the studios.[4] The crew used special hand-held Red One digital cameras, which allowed the special effects team to begin work normally done in post-production after each day's shooting.[5]

In March 2009, the film's working title was changed from Game to Citizen Game.[6][7] In May 2009, another name change was announced, the new name being Gamer.[8][9][10]


Critical reception has been primarily negative. The film holds a 28% "Rotten" rating from 75 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes; the site's consensus being "with all of the hyperkinetic action and none of the flair of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's earlier work, Gamer has little replay value."[11]

Critic Joe Neumaier of The New York Daily News, agreed, calling it a "Xerox of a Xerox" and citing a number of films it supposedly takes elements from, including The Matrix and Rollerball.[12] RVA Magazine noted that Gamer‍ '​s plot was overly similar to The Condemned and commented that Gamer "hates its primary audience" and "tries to criticize the commercialization of violence, even though it itself is commercialized violence".[13]

Cultural critic Steven Shaviro authored a 10,000 word defense and analysis of the film that he posted online, and eventually re-worked into the penultimate chapter of his book, Post-Cinematic Affect (Zer0 Books, 2010).[14]

Box office[edit]

Gamer was not a box office success. It had an opening day gross of $3.3 million and ranked fourth at the box office. In total, the film earned $9,156,057 in its opening weekend. Overall, the film grossed $20,534,907 in the United States and Canadian box office with a worldwide cumulative of $40,828,540.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Gamer (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Clip - Gamer". DreadCentral. January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  3. ^ Guider, Elizabeth (May 16, 2007). "Lakeshore, Butler to play Game". Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2007. 
  4. ^ Kamerick, Megan (August 31, 2007). "New film production fills Albuquerque Studios". New Mexico Business Weekly. Retrieved December 9, 2007. 
  5. ^ Douglas, Edward (November 19, 2007). "On the Set of Gerard Butler's New Sci-Fi Action Flick!". ComingSoon. Retrieved December 9, 2007. 
  6. ^ "IGN: Citizen Game Trailer, Wallpaper, Pictures, Soundtrack and More". IGN. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Lionsgate Publicity". Lionsgate Publicity. Retrieved April 5, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Gamer – In Theaters September 4". Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Exclusive Poster Premiere: Gamer -". Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Updated: Another name change for Game + new motion poster + Trailer on Xbox live". Retrieved May 9, 2009. 
  11. ^ "Gamer". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  12. ^ Neumaier, Joe (September 4, 2009). "New York Daily News reviewed negatively of Gamer". Daily News. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  13. ^ "RVA‍ '​s review of Gamer". RVA Magazine. September 4, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Gamer". Steven Shaviro. Retrieved January 2, 2010. 

External links[edit]