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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Gamer (review)

It’s visually incomprehensible, emotionally empty, thematically nihilistic, almost entirely plotless… and it thinks those are virtues. Do you need more reasons to stay away from this all-around pointless gorefest? I’ve been a defender of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor: I think their Crank flicks are clever sendups of cinematic convention, but I don’t know what they imagined they were doing here, with their five minutes of story and 90 minutes of random, brutal carnage. Perhaps they figured that since those five minutes of story are the same we’ve seen in a dozen other films — from The Running Man to Death Race — we didn’t need a retread. They’re right. Gerard Butler (The Ugly Truth) is a wrongly convicted (of course) death-row inmate fighting to escape from a “game” in which his meatbody is on the frontlines facing real ammo from real assault weapons but his nanobot-infected brain is being controlled by a teenaged player (Logan Lerman, not delivering on the promise he showed in 3:10 to Yuma) safe in his mom’s basement, so to speak. Yes, it’s all virtual reality until someone’s head explodes in burst of brain matter and skull fragments. Will Butler escape? Will he take down the techno billionaire responsible for the game (Michael C. Hall, making a poor choice for a feature breakout), who is up to a whole bunch of nefarious no-good? Do you have to ask?

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watch at home

MPAA: rated R for frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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