Thursday, September 24, 2009

GAMER - sporadically interesting Running Man remake

GAMER is a remake of the seminal Schwarzenegger sci-fi flick, RUNNING MAN. It's set in a dystopian future, where sex and violence are commercialised in computer games, allowing obese couch potatoes to fuck beautiful women and teenagers to control ultra-violent prisoners in live-action shoot-em-ups. Why have a virtual avatar when you can remote control actual people? The game is controlled by billionaire Ken Castle (a typically mischievous Michael C Hall) and peopled by set-up con Kable (Gerard Butler) and his wife turned hooker Angie (Amber Valetta). As in the original flick, the action really takes off when the "running man", Kable, escapes the game, aided by revolutionaries (Ludcaris, Aaron Yoo and Alison Lohman).

Despite all the CGI, GAMER doesn't have the visceral thrills of the action sequences in RUNNING MAN - for a start, there are no ridiculous baddies - remember the ice-hockey guy with the chainsaw?! In fact, the action sequences were pretty dull, which has to count as a big negative in a summer action movie. It was more interesting seeing how the film-makers had updated the dystopian future to capture the full weirdness of modern gaming. In terms of style, I was pleased to see Neveldine calm down the frenetic style of the CRANK movies, delivering a film with a nice bleak, almost monochrome look, while retaining their ability to mesh computer graphics and standard live-action film. I also like the fact that this film has more layers to it than the CRANK films - simultaneously critiquing and glorying in the voyeurism and nastiness of modern entertaining culture. And let me not forgot, a song-and-dance sequence in which Michael C Hall plays to Sammy Davis Junior's I've Got You Under My Skin. Worth the price of entry alone!

GAMER is on release in Greece, Canada, Finland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the USA, Belgium, Estonia, France, the Philippines, Russia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, the UK, the Czech Republic and Austria. It opens next week in South Korea and Bulgaria. It opens in October in Brazil, the Netherlands, Iceland, Croatia and Lithuania. It opens on January 7th in Germany.

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