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June 17, 2011

Gamer reminds me why for years I’ve had a fearful and strong distrust for technology. In fact only within the past two years have I been able to stop the cold sweat and panic attacks I received when thinking about the evolution of man and technology. Yet, Gamer has sparked a somewhat relapse in my thought process of technological singularity, pushing that fear farther as it explores a possible future where technology will evolve to a point in which humans become interconnected with it. For some people the idea of bionic men and women or Arnold Schwarzenegger type of machine gods roaming the Earth, invincible due to technologically advanced health and strength, are the positives of singularity. Nevertheless, in my head the only outcome to singularity is tragedy and Gamer somewhat perfectly explicates the fear I’ve been harboring for years.

Somewhere in the near future, the world has become completely intertwined with technology and baseball has fallen as America’s pastime. Now the popular video game Slayers, created by Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), rules the world. Through nanotechnology real life death row inmates are placed in combat for a chance to win freedom as average Joes control their avatars from their own personal computer screens. John “Kable” Tillman (Gerard Butler) has become the face of Slayers and its highest ranking player with the help of Simon Silverton (Logan Lerman), a 17-year-old kid basking in the glory of popularity and recognition for controlling the well-liked avatar. However, when a group of rogue hackers began transmitting messages around the world that paint Castle as an evil genius waiting to control the masses, Kable is given his chance at freedom to clear his name and return home to his wife and daughter.

Gamer uses its production to remind viewers of the technologically advanced society we have evolved to become. Gamer’s writer/director duo Mark Nevediline and Brian Taylor not only construct a plot that depends on technology but they also innovatively use technology to construct and depict a new world. Gamer shows a future of excess in which humans are able to live vicariously through others controlling their every move. The film is therefore shot digitally using graphic special effects and implementing florescent high-key lighting that creates exaggerated and synthetic looking images that reflect the film’s theme. Gamer appears oversaturated and there’s too much to look at on screen stressing the reality of the world in which Gamer exists. For viewers who are actual video game players, Gamer is similar to watching third and first person shooters like Call of Duty and Halo; the action is quick, point of view can be changed rapidly, and combat at times is slowed down creating an exaggerated cool effect.

But Gamer also suffers from how technologically aware it is at times as well as corny. Because of its fast paced motion and hand held shaky camera movements, viewers not interested or familiar with the video gaming world may find the affects off-putting; if you’ve suffered from seizures and motion sickness, you have been warned. By the film’s ending it’s a bit hard to get though the lack of stability that takes place, especially an out of place cheesy dance number that is started by Castle. Hall is great as the obsessive compulsive recluse Castle, however, his character isn’t strong enough nor consistent enough to be entertaining when he is on screen. It’s hard to understand how a billionaire with obvious mental and social problems can be so charming and liked by his peers despite his quirky dickishness. Towards the end his personality seems almost clownish and at times takes away from the film.

Gamer is an impressive film and frankly I was pretty shocked at all the bad and mediocre reviews it received initially upon release. It’s an intriguing, intelligent story that gives a new and realistic twist to the age old fear of technology. Gamer also impressively employs the dynamics of sound editing and mixing along with beautiful cinematography and editing that makes the film a cinematic triumph if nothing else. If you’re up for an intense action film with promises of the three B’s (blood, bullets, and boobs) and a moral, then look no further than Gamer.

SEE IT. Why not?

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