On this week’s episode, I’m running down a quintet of action movies that feel like comic book movies, but without existing source material. I had a great time putting this list together and a lot of fun watching these movies. I hope you do too!
I was pretty excited about Gamer from the get go. Gerard Bulter playing an 80s-style bad ass running around shooting people and being controlled by some kid? SOLD! I didn’t realize until I got it from Netflix that the movie was actually written and directed by my favorite co-writing and -directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, that’s right, the brains behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage, two of the raddest movies to come out in…ever. And, damn, Gamer holds up to the same level as those two flicks.
Like I said, Butler plays a soldier being controlled by a kid in a giant real-life video game where real human are being controlled. The bad guy, played by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, has developed some science that allows people to be controlled. He invented the tech around a game called Society where people get paid to play as human avatars for gamers sitting in their houses. It’s like Sims, but with real people. Then, he created Slayers, which allows people to control death row inmates in a Halo-like game but without aliens, just other people. If you win a certain number of battles, you get set free. Whew, okay, that’s just the set up. There’s also this group called Humanz led by Ludacris who wants to reveal the truth behind Hall’s evil master plan (to control everyone in the world). They set it up so the kid playing Butler can actually talk to him and Butler breaks out, finds his wife and sets out to take Hall down (he also has Butler’s kid).
Butler’s as awesome as you would expect him to be. He’s got all the heft and badassery of an 80s action hero, but he’s also got a charisma and real acting chops the peek through the blood and grime. And boy, is this movie bloody. There are several big huge battles with Butler but one of 50 or so dudes running around, blasting holes in each other. People get blown up and tossed around and shot in the head. They really did a good job of capturing the weirdness of first person shooter games in the first few moments with all the craziness hitting you right away. Eventually, you get the jist of what’s going on and it goes on from there.
I also liked how the future in this game (it’s called “many years from this moment” or something like that) is portrayed. None of it really seems too far off, though I think people actually watching other people kill each other on television is much further away than writers seem to. I really liked the technology of the future. The kid controlling Butler goes to a small-ish circular room that’s covered in video screens displaying everything from his games to music to communications with other people, but when it’s game time, all that goes away and he’s miming the actions of his avatar in the game. It was all very cool.
If you’re a video game fan or even remotely like action movies, definitely check this one out, you won’t be sorry.