You have to hand it to any movie that can make a man who kills hundreds of people a week the most sympathetic character in the story.
That's more or less the goal of Gamer, a movie where a killing machine with a heart of gold, branded as Kable (Gerard Butler) by the evil corporate video game he is trapped in, must kill his way to freedom.
The game, called "Slayers," takes convicted felons and throws them into a penned off combat zone where they are controlled by over-privileged, over-wired 17-year-olds. If they are successfully piloted for 30 games, they win their freedom, something that's never happened, though Kable has come close.
In between lessons on how to keep fight sequences from getting dull, because they're most of the movie, there's lacerating satire. In fact, the opening sequence has people actually bunny hopping and tea-bagging their opponents like those jackasses you see all the time in online games.
Topping that winning combination are supporting characters of pure uncut greatness, including Michael C. Hall chewing on scenery with a Southern drawl and using phrases like "a cock-solid 68%," as Ken Castle. He even has a song and dance number to Sinatra's Under My Skin that blends into a fight sequence.
Kyra Sedgwick plays Gina Parker Smith, a journalist loyal only to herself. While Ludacris rounds out the cast as Humanz Brother, the leader of the rebel faction bent on bringing down the system that allows Slayers, and it's Second Life-like counterpart-"Society", where people go for this world's version of cybersex-to exist.
Like The Running Man before him, Kable isn't getting off as easy "30 games and your out," as Castle is needs Kable dead-or at lest under his control-so he can essentially control the world with Nanex, the micro-machines that allow all this gaming goodness to happen. Nano-bots being to modern sci-fi what "nuclear" was to sci-fi in the 50's.
While the plot needlessly diverges in places, there are some truly great moments. One in particular stands out: After a punishing match filled with bullets and bodies, they jump-cut to thousands of people around the world cheering. It's a grotesque sight that left me feeling queasy, as good satire should.
One of the best parts of this movie is spotting all the cameos. John de Lancie, Allison Lohman, Terry Crews all make appearances. But the cherry on top: Milo Ventimiglia as Rick Rape, a latex fetishist that gets Bane-broken over Kable's knee.
While most of the "social commentary" the film has to offer has been done before, and done better (Rollerball, Death Race 2000), if you check your brain at the door, this is a sweet blow-some-shit-up action fest. You could easily pair it with the another Gerard Butler absurd-violence-vehicle like 300 or Law Abiding Citizen. If you wanted to go a more cerebral route, you could go with another surprisingly subversive film, Josie and the Pussy Cats. (Really?-The Management)