GAMER is a high-concept action thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid. Humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online games: people play people... for keeps. Mind-control technology is widespread, and at the heart of the controversial games is its creator, reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). His latest brainchild, the first-person shooter game "Slayers," allows millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death. Kable (300's Gerard Butler) is the superstar and cult hero of the ultraviolent "Slayers." Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle's ruthless technology.
Frenzied and relentlessly aggressive, Gamer seeks to translate the sensory barrage of violent video games into movie form--and does a pretty successful job. In a dystopic future, prisoners on death row are given a slim chance of survival as flesh-and-blood avatars for shoot-'em-up game players who control their very brains. The mastermind behind this game (played by Michael C. Hall, Dexter) has secret ambitions worthy of a James Bond villain, but his schemes are threatened by John Tillman (Gerard Butler, 300), the only living avatar who's survived more than a few games--so Tillman's already dangerous life turns even more deadly. Gamer revels in overkill: visual tricks abound as the action speeds up or slows down, skittering to and fro with jump cuts and flashes of light. The dialogue is a catalog of macho posturing or melodramatic exposition. The performances--from a surprising cast that includes Alison Lohman (Drag Me to Hell), Kyra Sedgwick (The Closer), Chris "Ludacris" Bridges (Crash), and supermodel Amber Valletta--play cartoonish characters with exuberant gusto and commitment. By conventional standards, Gamer is a terrible movie… but the movie's creators don't care, because they aspire to step beyond conventional standards. As with their previous adrenaline-driven flick Crank, the writer-director team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor want viewers to plug in, turn off their rational minds, and immerse themselves in sheer sensation. --Bret Fetzer