If you loved â€œRollerball,â€ â€œ Death Race 2000 â€ and their subsequent B-grade remakes, rush this instant to see â€œGamer,â€ which opened Friday. Putting a high-tech spin on those familiar stories, the movie is aimed squarely at connoisseurs of high-concept, lowbrow pulp.
You probably know the plot: In the near future, people control people via brain implants. The obvious applications for sexual thrills have already been explored, but now the public wants violence. In a very real shoot-em-up game called Slayers, death-row prisoners surrender control of their bodies in the hopes of surviving and receiving a pardon.
That, of course, has never happened. But champion warrior Kable (Gerard Butler) and his 17-year-old â€œgamer,â€ Simon (Logan Lerman), have a plan to buck the system. Meanwhile, the billionaire genius behind all this ghastly technology, Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall, of â€œDexterâ€), has even bigger plans.
Oooh, goody! Writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (â€œCrankâ€) have great fun blowing things up, people included. Butler is perfect as a piece of barbequed beef, Kyra Sedgwick plays a sexy talk-show host and there are small roles for John Leguizamo and Chris â€œLudacrisâ€ Bridges. Hall, as the smarmy Castle, steals the movie with a symbolic marionette dance to Sammy Davis Jr.’s â€œI’ve Got You Under My Skin.â€
But â€œGamerâ€ works even better as social satire. With half the population manipulating the other, the world has become hilariously depraved: People strip naked in public, rollerblade into each other and giggle over their wounds. And just like on today’s Internet, that busty blond moaning in your ear is probably a fat guy with a keyboard.
There’s also a brief clip of a foul-mouthed newscaster smoking on television. Egad, what is the world coming to?