GAMER (18) *** DIRECTED BY: MARK NEVELDINE, BRIAN TAYLOR STARRING: GERARD BUTLER, AMBER VALLETTA, MICHAEL C HALL, KYRA SEDGWICK
AS CREATORS of the demented Crank franchise, former promo cinematographers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor deserve some credit for being upfront about their desire to deliver purely adrenaline-driven action cinema and for making it look brilliant.
Their latest opus, Gamer, mostly continues this trend by taking the modern video gaming desire for lifelike interactivity to its most bloodthirsty end, in a near-future world where death-row prisoners are given a chance to win back their freedom by participating in a game called Slayers, a real-world combat simulation in which their moves are controlled by console junkies, and death in the game means death in real life. Gerard Butler, making a welcome return to brainless action after the horrors of PS I Love You and The Ugly Truth, makes for an engagingly retro 1980s-style action protagonist as the game's reigning champ.
Alas, after an entertaining set-up that tweaks The Running Man's corrupt reality show premise, Gamer never quite delivers, with the big showdown between Butler's Kable and Slayer's nut-job creator (played with megalomaniacal glee by Dexter's Michael C Hall) more of a letdown than a showdown.