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Gamer a.k.a. “Game,” “Citizen Game”

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for frenetic sequences of strong brutal ce throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Sci-Fi, Thriller, Action, Drama
1 hr. 35 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 4, 2009 (wide—2,300+ theaters)
DVD: January 19, 2010
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Featuring: Gerard Butler (Kable), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick, Logan Lerman, Milo Ventimiglia, Alison Lohman, Zoe Bell, John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta, Terry Crews, Keith David, Aaron Yoo, Efren Ramirez, Johnny Whitworth, Sam Witwer, Ashley Rickards, Mimi Michaels, Jonathan Chase, Kate Mulligan, Joseph D. Reitman, Christine Price, Jade Ramsey, Brighid Fleming, Kisha Sierra, Nikita Ramsey, Daniel J Gonzales, Sadie Alexandru, Pamela Finley, Dylan Kenin, Jarvis W. George, Michael-David Aragon, Stephanie Mace, Henry Hayashi, Jack Brunacini Jr., Scott C. Voss, Josie Iller, Dan Strakal, Med Abrous, Jai Stefan, Ramsey Moore, Jera Askey, Julie Barbarito Craig, Hayley Derryberry, Christian Di Salvo, Sean Halvorson, Jamie Haqqani, William E. Marshall, David Mate, Breanna Perera, Paul J. Porter, Don Smith, Lewie Wickham, Paul Zepeda
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Producer: Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment, Gary Lucchesi, James McQuaide, Neveldine, Michael Paseornek, Eric Reid, Tom Rosenberg, David Rubin, Taylor, Skip Williamson, Richard S. Wright
Distributor: Lionsgate

“In the near future, you don’t live to play… you’ll play to live.”

False accusations of murder, controlling life, and the definition of reality all sound like interesting subjects for a movie. In fact, one would think that any film with these elements would require multiple layers as well as a good deal of depth. Leave it to the film makers of “Gamer” to prove that theory wrong. In this shallow and poorly made effort starring Gerard Butler of “300” fame, these intriguing elements come together as a mishmash of gore, sex, and almost incoherent dialogue leaving a film that is easily the worst movie this reviewer has seen all year.

The story takes place in the near future where gaming has been taken to a completely different level. Because of the development of some high tech nano-chips that are injected into the brains of humans, gamers can now pay to dictate the actions of another person. They do so in a game called ‘Society’ where they can make people act in various social settings, and also in a game called ‘Slayers’ where death row inmates are put in war scenario ‘battles’ and are controlled by gamers. If a slayer survives 30 consecutive battles, they are given their release from prison.

No one has ever earned their freedom from Slayers, but player Kable (Butler) is three battles away from doing so. The creator of this technology, Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), is a billionaire who revels in the idea of one human controlling another. It seems there is a hidden history between Castle and Kable regarding the invention of the technology, and the ethics behind its use.

The problems with “Gamer” are numerous. First of all, the story is anything but airtight. All plot reveals are either completely obvious, or seem to be made up on the spot by one character spouting off dialogue that just so happens to explain what just happened. The action sequences are shot with the ‘shaky camera’ effect but don’t mount any tension in the process. The acting is at poor at best. Gerard Butler’s work here, which consists mostly of staring really hard, makes his work in “300” look Oscar-worthy. John Leguizamo is fine, but only seen in about three scenes. Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Kyra Sedgwick are cardboard cutout characters, at best.

The positives in the film are very few; in fact, there is only one, I can’t think of more than one. That bright spot belongs to Michael C. Hall. Known more for his roles on television shows like “Dexter” and “Six Feet Under,” Hall is diabolical as the villain and does the most with his limited screen time.

Even more disconcerting for moviegoers is the amount of objectionable material in “Gamer.” The ce in the film is omnipresent, racking up a body count well into triple digits. The sexual content is extreme, with many brief glimpses of nudity mostly coming in the ‘Society’ game where people are “controlled” to have sex.

For all the garbage you endure in “Gamer,” you will get very little that is redeemable. With extreme content and poor film making, there isn’t a good reason to see this film. Skip “Gamer” at all costs.

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—The only objection I have on the film is the unnecessary sexual content and innuendo. The movie is extremely violent, as expected and intended to be, as it’s about a reality game show where people actually play not characters but real people; in this case death row inmates. Obviously, the movie is based on the Stephen King (Richard Bachmann) novella made into Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “The Running Man.” It’s a solid action thriller made for action fans, which is the reason I am giving it a positive rating.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Cyril Thomas, age 29 (Scotland)
Negative—Why oh why did I waste my money on this?! It was soft core porn. I made the mistake of watching a movie based on an actor I like. I’m not a gamer, but I get the game feel of the movie with the shaky camera work and static in the shots. As my husband said, “It had such potential.”

The nudity was rampant. Breasts everywhere, women kissing each other, sexual moans, shots of people having sex in the background, a young character (age 17 in the film and in real life) viewing multiple shots of pornography as he searches the web, young women, whose Web names are so crude, talking to him via the Web, and he wears a shirt that has a picture of bare breasts on it, full size. Where are this kids parents? My kid could NEVER star in such a film where he was surrounded by that, even if the effects were added in after.

The violence was excessive, with bits of body parts landing on peoples faces. It was a horrible movie, the whole feel of it was thin. It’s not like I could even say it was a good movie minus the porn (because that’s what it was to me. Not even nudity just soft core porn) because it was so weak. Maybe someone could have done a better job with the idea.

Maybe “Surrogates” will prove to be better. You couldn’t even empathize with the characters. When he reunites with his family, you could care less because you don’t feel for the characters, even the child. This movie, lousy on so many levels, so offensive with the nudity and sexual situations. Avoid it.

Ladies if you like Gerard Butler, go rent “Dear Frankie,” a great “chick flick” with him in it, and he does a great job even though he’s in a short time, and the story line is great.

Now that he’s being type cast as an action guy and with a film like “Gamer” under his belt, his name no longer means an automatic let’s go see it, for me. He can do action if he picked some better roles.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Andrea, age 37 (USA)
Negative—This movie was so terrible… the story line and script made absolutely no sense at all. Pointless drug, sex, and nude scenes, and swearing left and right. Terrible acting. Not worth watching. It was very disappointing… one of the top worst movies of 2009.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
Paul, age 18 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—I live in Canada so this movie was 14a; how can a movie be 14a when there is—much swearing—intense blood and gore—and 7-8 bare breast scenese!!?!… I have to admit the violence was very entertaining, and kept you on the edge of you seat, but the rest of the movie was pointless nudity, sex, and swearing. The point of the movie is people control other people like in a video game. This means that women would just randomly walk on screen and start taking off their clothes! A few times women would just take off their bras exposing their breasts! I couldn’t believe a movie this bad and pointless could be made into a movie. The extreme nudity, porn, and sex reeealy bothered me in this movie. If you didn’t have all that, then it would have been a reealy great movie. …I felt really bad leaving the theatre, knowing I had seen way too much nudity… Please, if you are a strong christian, don’t see this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
Tom Hoppus, age 15 (Canada)
Negative—“Gamer” actually had something going for it in the first fifty minutes, kind of a mix between Battle Royale and The Condemned, unfortunately by the end it took the route of The Condemned and became just that. I didn’t have a problem with the frenetic action sequences, I thought those were the only good thing about the movie, but once Butler’s character left the Slayers game around the forty to fifty minute mark the film quickly spiraled into territory marked uninspired and unoriginal.

You know it’s bad when during a scene between Michael C. Hall and Gerard Butler you think to yourself, "'So what are we going to do today Dexter?' 'The same thing we do everyday Spartan, try to take over the world!'" Take a guess where the films plot went. The acting was all mundane, Butler has great screen presence but here he doesn’t even try (doesn’t really have too); nearly all the people in this movie take it way too seriously, the only two realizing the true tone being Hall and actress Kyra Sedgwick, with only Hall coming out the better, looks like the only thing Kyra enjoyed in this film was the paycheck at the end, meanwhile Alison Lohman’s hair speaks more then she does and not in a good way.

If I was to get more in depth on what all was wrong with the pedestrian (read: mediocre) plot then I’d say this post would be far too long. However, I did almost fall off my couch when a morbidly obese gamer furiously threw a tray of waffles at his fifteen television screens, classic. Also, is it bad when a straight-laced Lionsgate action film’s best scene is a song and dance number with Michael C. Hall?
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Joshua S., age 16 (USA)
Positive—…This movie has to be the biggest kick in the face alive.It helps you realize the world we live in,addicted to the internet,and other worldly things. The (nudity) in the movie that many people mark offensive, is showing the one of the main uses of the internet and the people who use is (fat guy on a couch). People need to realize this movie is showing what the world is like.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Josue Martinez, age 17 (USA)
Movie Critics
…The barrage of violence and virtual perversion jumbles into a frenetic, joyless experience even compared to Neveldine and Taylor’s previous projects. There should be attendants standing outside the theater with T-shirts reading, “I went to see Gamer, and all I got was a seizure and a T-shirt.”
Jeff Leins, News in Film
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I was told by my brother in-law “this is the best movie ever,” so we took his advice. We both love gaming type movies—but this one is awful! I couldn’t even get through the first 45 minutes of it. I kept thinking "It has to be better", but it didn’t. There are swear word peppered in almost every word spoken. There is also sex going on the background in all the “gaming” scenes. I couldn’t take anymore of it. We shut it off. Don’t waste your time or money on this one! I was glad it was a FREE rental, otherwise I would have asked for my money back. What a disgrace of a movie and a waste of time! Yuck!
Amy, age 40 (USA)
I have not seen this film, just yet, but I plan to. I am a gamer and have read a lot about this movie. I am sure a lot of people will shy away from it and that’s great you should do what you need to. But if complains about it I feel then that is wrong. I seen what this movie was about and even seen the script online now. To me this movie more shows how corrupt the world can get or may even get in the future, especially when it comes to our forms of entertainment. Yes, there is a story about a man in there and all that. But I see something deeper and it should be obvious as I stated. People who say “I already know the world is bad/going to get worse and don’t need to see it!”, well that’s no excuse really. Many people I have met especially other christians have said that yet seem very naive about the world. It saddens me that when I was in my late teens the level of “knowing” seem to drop amongst people about the world. And now everyone seems to be oblivious to issues of the world. Its no wonder we christians get picked on. We tend to shout out about things without knowing what’s going on. Which is why I like this movie and want to see it. So I constantly keep myself aware of just how bad the world could and WILL be.
Linda, age 33 (USA)