When I sat down in the sparsely seated theater, I thought it was odd to have so little attendance for a film with such hype.
Then again, I thought everyone was enjoying their Sunday afternoon somewhere else. I was right. Most theater goers were enjoying themselves in a different movie theater.
But I still sat and waited patiently for Gamer to start. The movie is about death row inmates who sign themselves up to be part of a game called Slayer. If they complete 30 successful missions, they can gain their freedom. Of course, success means keeping their heads from being blown off, keeping all of their limbs, and staying alive.
For those without gaming skills, well, they escape death row through death.
From Mark Neveldine's and Brian Taylor's (the guys behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage) screenplay, I got the message that people are too into video games, and some cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
They are right for pointing this out. Most teenagers (and grown men, alike), play their video games with heinous violence and female objectification, and feel like they're not doing anything wrong because it's just a game. But there are those few who can no longer discern the difference between game and reality. Their art becomes life. And that life spells death.
So Neveldine and Taylor are onto something. But their delivery, as well as their directing, is awful. Gamer is one big, horny, teenage male fantasy of a film that is depressing and gory.
The predecessor to Slayer is Society, a game where real people sign themselves up to be controlled by gamers, allowing themselves to do whatever the gamer wants them to do. It's pretty much Sodom and Gomorrah in a game land.
The only redeeming quality of this film is that Neveldine and Taylor actually show their audience who is really controlling the joystick: "nerds" with high-tech devices that can make things happen with the click of a mouse.
They are the ones creating the games. They are the ones in control. Then again, the other message of the film is that society has relinquished its control to these "nerds." I'm calling them "nerds" because it's more of a moniker than a description.
Moving on to the actors, I like Gerard Butler. His Kable character is surprisingly likeable. He's a good man, through and through. Michael C. Hall is good as a looney toon tycoon with too much money and too much power. He's decent as basket-case billionaire Ken Castle. He represents "the nerds" who make billions of dollars off the many people content to live in alternate realities.
Rapper/actor Ludacris makes an appearance as the lead of the Humanz, an organization trying to stop Ken from controlling the world with his games.
Kyra Sedgwick of "The Closer'' plays against type as a snoopy journalist named Gina Parker Smith. Her yellow trench coat and chocolate drop earrings serve as appendages to her character. She is excellent. She also looks like she had some fun with the role.
I would like to mention Terry Crews as serial killer Hackman. I hate that his character is a homicidal maniac. But he does play it well, which scares me. I love Crews as an actor; I don't want to be afraid of him.
I'm also a fan of John Leguizamo. But I hated his shifty-eyed character named Freek. He uses the "N" word and thinks he's black. It's very annoying.
Other actors of mention include Alison Lohman as Trace. She is good, and should have had more screen time. Her character is different and interesting.
Amber Valleta as Angie, Kable's wife, is OK. She never does much with any of her characters. Last but not least, Logan Lerman plays Simon, Kable's gamer, who controls him. Lerman is great as a mouthy teen. He has the potential to go places.
Gamer is a thoroughly disgusting and degrading film. After sitting through the entire hour and a half of it, I realized why the theater wasn't full of audience members. It's uncomfortable and could have made more of an impact had there been one director making decisions, and someone else consulting on the script. That person could have told these two other men that what they have is garbage.
I can't gouge out my eyes for having seen it. So, I will just warn you loyal readers to be careful not to watch this film. It's more of a straight-to-DVD kind of film, anyway.