Theatrical release poster
|Written by||Neveldine & Taylor|
|Box office||$40.8 million|
Gamer is a 2009 American science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. 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.
In 2024, inventor and professional computer programmer Ken Castle 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 is recognized as the best Slayer and crowd's favorite, having survived 27 matches. He is exclusively controlled by Simon, 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 a 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, who was the one contacting him in prison. She takes him to the Humanz leader Brother and Dude. They explain to him the danger of Castle's mind control technology. Tillman searches for his wife 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, 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 film closes with the Tillman family taking a trip down a country road, ending with the words "Game Over".
- Gerard Butler as John "Kable" Tillman, the highest-ranked warrior in the game Slayers.
- Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle, creator of Society and Slayers. The main antagonist of the movie.
- Amber Valletta as Angie "Nika" Roth Tillman, Kable's wife, an avatar in Society.
- Logan Lerman as Simon Silverton, the 17-year-old gamer "playing" Kable.
- Ariana Scott as Shelley Silverton aka SISSYPUSS, the sister of Simon
- Terry Crews as Hackman, a psychopathic inmate sent to murder Kable.
- Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges as Brother, the spokesperson and leader of the Humanz.
- Kyra Sedgwick as Gina Parker Smith, a famous talk show host who meets the Humanz and investigates them.
- Aaron Yoo as Dude, a member of the Humanz and a hacker.
- Alison Lohman as Trace, a member of the Humanz.
- John Leguizamo as Freek, an inmate who befriends Kable.
- Zoë Bell as Sandra, an inmate.
- Mimi Michaels as Stikkimuffin, another teenage gamer. A fan of Simon.
- Milo Ventimiglia as Rick Rape
- Jonathan Chase as Geek Leader, the head of Castle's technical team.
- Keith David as Agent Keith, a CIA agent.
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.
Principal photography 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. 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.
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.
The film received negative reviews from critics. 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."
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. 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".
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).
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- "RVA's review of Gamer". RVA Magazine. September 4, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2011.
- "Gamer". Steven Shaviro. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
- Official website
- Gamer at the Internet Movie Database
- Gamer at Box Office Mojo
- Gamer at Rotten Tomatoes
- Gamer at Metacritic