Cyberpunk Review » Gamer

September 7, 2009


Movie Review By: Mr. Roboto

Year: 2009

Directed & Written by: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Key Cast Members:

  • Kable/John Tillman: Gerard Buttler
  • Simon Silverton: Logan Lerman
  • Ken Castle: Michael C. Hall
  • Humanz Brother: Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges
  • Rating: 9 out of 10

    Kable and Simon

    Are you the player… or the played?

    Overview. At first glance, Gamer would seem to be about first-person shooters (FPSs) taken to new extremes… and the people who play them. Beneath all the explosions, spent bullet casings, and piles of fragged corpses, there’s a story about how one man is using nanotechnology for more than just sick entertainment. While the concept of technology to control humanity is nothing new to cyberpunk, how it is being used to that end in this movie may make you look at Quake and Unreal Tournament (and maybe The Sims series and Second Life) differently.


    The Story. Ken Castle is the mastermind behind Nanex, the nanotechnology that fuses to human neurons in the brain to effectively control it. With this level of control, one person can make a Nanex-infused human his/her personal meatbot-slave. This results in the creation of the two largest, most successful live-action MMORPGs: Society, a Sims style RPG, and Slayers, the FPS where convicted death-row inmates fight to survive thirty matches where they win their freedom.

    Kable, convicted of murder and separated from his wife and daughter, has won 26 matches already, thanks in part to his “controller” Simon. Kable has become a virtual god worshiped by the world, while Simon has become a rock star equivalent. But as Kable closes in on his 30th victory, a hacker group called the Humanz inform the duo that Kable’s appearance in Slayers is no accident as he hold information that can bring Castle’s empire down.

    Ludacris as Humanz Brother

    “This is not something you can control. It ain’t just a game, we’re all slaves.”

    Who’s playing you? The potential danger of Nanex becomes all too obvious near the end of the movie, with Castle seeking godlike status. The immediate problems can be seen as Angie (Kable’s wife) is often seen as a Society meatbot to a controller who… let’s just say that which once seen cannot be unseen.

    Kable and Castle

    Kable: “You pull all the strings around here.”
    Castle: “I think it, you do it.”

    As if to drive the point of control home, you should see the “Under My Skin” scene with Castle and some of this personal meatbots doing a little song and dance for visiting Kable, a’ la West Side Story.

    Kable and Angie

    Also worth noting: The contrast of the bright neon-and-flesh colors of Society vs. the blood-drenched gray war zones of Slayers.


    Conclusion. Some people might love watching meatbots fight for their freedom. Some might be turned away from the movie’s explosive (literally) battle scenes. But if you look past the blasts, you can see how it makes for a pretty good cyberpunk film.

    And if you don’t think meatbots are possible, you should take a quick look at this article from 2006…


    September 7, 2009

    Gren said:

    This movie gets a ‘boo’ from me for it’s complete and thorough misunderstanding of gamer culture.

    SSJKamui said:


    The Story sounds like a kind of cyberpunk version of a roman gladiator story.

    Ono-Sendai said:

    I was immediately turned off by this film’s premise as it seemed to be trying to cash in on gamer culture, like Gren said. I am also getting fairly tired of Science Fiction’s increasing over-reliance on nano technology as an “explain-all” or plot device. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, but nano-tech now seems to be the savior for the lazy SF writer.

    Getting more details about the plot, it sounds a lot like Schwarzenegger’s Running Man. Which makes me want to see it a bit more. I just worry that the references to gaming and the outsider’s perceived obsession with the “extreme-ness” of gaming are going to be cringe inducing.

    I am much more interested in seeing Turbo which seems much more self-aware/self-deprecating and less pandering.

    September 8, 2009

    foo said:

    Gamer culture == buy the newest and flashiest instead of being creative. How a movie can misunderstand that, I don’t know.

    fool said:

    And what about gamers who play old games and make thousand of very creative levels for their communities ?
    Jokes aside, I’ll give a try for this movie, thanks for this review.

    Anonnite said:

    Nothing to do with the movie but… adding Ludacris is like adding nannites… overexposed and lame… and I can’t help but think of his Crank Yankers face when I see him. Amber Valetta does look like an old crackwhore there though, good casting on that front.

    September 9, 2009

    Theo said:

    Although it’s, as you say, a “boom boom” movie, I was disappointed in the lack of camera stabilization. Shaky cameras aren’t good for suspension of disbelief.

    I don’t know if Mark Neveldine or Brian Taylor was responsible for the soundtrack selection, but I think they also went lazy on that. There are many great bands out there that could have found excellent slots in this film.

    Spencer said:

    I think you’re overrating this. It was a fun movie, but 9/10? REALLY? Right…okay. This site has gone down my standards now.

    Really though, this is a crap depiction of gaming, but a fun “boom” film, I guess.

    September 10, 2009

    Spookyelectric said:

    Eagerly awaiting a review of “Surrogates” once the movie releases. That movie looks like it’ll be WAY more Cyberpunk than this film was.

    Anonnite said:

    Surrogates definitely looks like it has some nice Matrix/GITS going on. Let’s hope they push the story and don’t just sink into a chase film.

    September 11, 2009

    ghostdog said:

    I’d wouldn’t give the movie more than 6/10. Sure it has a lot of cyberpunk content , and yes it tries to be more than just another action film. Unfortunately the execution is lacking. The story is rather naive and it ultimately misses the spot with the themes it decides to tackle.

    arabyana said:

    great post keep it up.

    September 13, 2009

    chlordane said:

    I thought it was on point.
    Eventually, the tech will be used against society in such a way, that freedom as we know it will cease to exist.

    September 22, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    u think you are free? Hmmph

    September 26, 2009

    Hammerjack said:

    Finally saw this movie and I agree with the review. I agree with the other comments saying it doesn’t represent gamer culture… but who cares? This isn’t a movie about gamer culture. I wish they hadn’t titled the movie “Gamer” because it isn’t about the gamer at all. It’s about becoming a slave to someone you don’t know or trust. This movie is disgusting in its social commentary. I agree with Mr. Roboto about Kable’s wife’s controller…. cannot be unseen. To me, this movie is what Running Man wishes it could’ve been. Unfortunately, when Fleetwood Mac loses popularity I guess you have to resort to Ludacris.

    September 28, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    >>u think you are free? Hmmph

    Wow man. You are deep.

    November 22, 2009

    Truth_Seeker said:

    This movie may have a good concept, but it’s extremely hard to follow the plot and the script seems a little lame. I think it’s another movie like “Ultraviolet” - style over substance.

    Rawmekk said:

    Turbo looks like shit. And the movie “Gamer” does NOT misunderstand Gamer-culture. It just takes it to a higher level. Like “Death Race” (which sucked ass), it shows the way entertainment will take. You think wars are about money or Power only? No, soon they will be part of entertainment too.

    December 7, 2009

    synthetic_creature said:

    hmm loved parts of it… particularly the way everyone interfaced with computers. was really well displayed in a visual regard that way. i think the action segments were excessive, but then again thats how games are so i suppose it makes sense. overall a good movie but not a great movie. cyberpunk content is really worth a watch though.. i think i liked it more than surrogates

    December 17, 2009

    0rw3ll said:

    Just watched this movie, I agree with the review. A great surprise overall. Has anyone else noticed that there is a reference to Blade Runner?

    December 26, 2009

    Timu said:

    No way this movie is 9 out of 10… The plot does not have any decent philosophy to it, and is clearly action-oriented rather than idea-oriented. The whole movie is just a spinoff of Running Man (with X-Box action involved).

    By the way, did I miss something or is the last scene with Kable breaking his mind restraint just an awkward and highly predictable turn of events? It seemed like someone just said “Kable breaks his restraint just because this movie has to have a happy end” . Nevermind how he manages to do that (radio interference?? it was that simple?), the whole scene just says “happy end goes here”.

    January 9, 2010

    mglt said:

    This movie sucked real hard. The acting was horrible, the story was bland and hollow, and the action was extremely random and slapped together. The whole movie felt like a frozen polished turd.

    Seeing reviews for films like this and Cassern just goes to show why this website is the LAST place to look at for ratings.

    January 30, 2010

    exploded_view said:

    if it wasn’t for this review i would not have rented the film, cause it looked like some fps action movie - the i see ‘cyberpunk visuals: high’. so cheers for the eye candy.

    maybe most notable about this film - at the start there is a giant SCHWA alien head on the side of a building. the genuine SCHWA website went offline on or near 9-11 2001, and only recently someones who don’t seem at all connected to the original were trying to revive it.

    March 2, 2010

    Duncan121 said:

    EXACTLY. Besides the overall dystopian future feel of the movie, which a lot of movies have had since Blade Runner came out, there were three references to Blade Runner that I caught. First was Kable’s wife was dressed as Pris in the online selection of clothes by the Fat Guy in the chair, and second was the set that Gerard Butler walked into after Ludacris probed his mind looked like it came right out BR’s 2019 LA City Scape, and ending was just like BR’s original Theatrical Release… definitely an Homage..

    March 28, 2010

    Lockdown said:

    This film a 9 out of 10? Really? Better than classics like A Clockwork Orange or Pi? I don’t think so. This movie was absolute shit. It’s going to be in the bargain bin in walmart in a couple of months, and no ones going to remember it 1 year from now let alone the 20+ A Clockwork Orange has. Terrible rating.

    April 25, 2010

    Burnt_lombard said:

    Just watched this and it was pretty lame. Had some interesting ideas, although nothing new. Every character even the villain are incredibly bland and the frentic style is annoying.

    May 7, 2010

    Gillian Seed said:

    LOL, you reviewers give Total Recall 7/10 and this un-original/overexposed piece of crap a 9/10? -It’s becoming clear now that your reviewing skills are just as credible as IMDB.

    Seriously, zip up your pants and use your brain the next time you decide to write an adequate CP review, Mr. Roboto.

    July 18, 2010

    Visual Mark said:

    This film, i think, wasn’t about gamer culture at all. But about the mind control from the economic power, the humanz resistence represent the gamer culture.

    sorry for my bad english

    October 3, 2010

    Dman said:

    Definitely not a 9 out of 10.. the movie didn’t even hold my interest and I ended up watching it in halves.

    October 15, 2010

    opium said:

    Jeez, are you f*cking nuts?? How this crap can get 9 stars when ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘A Clockwork Orange’ gets 8?

    Try to think twice before writing another review.

    zenneeker said:

    As with all reviews it is down to personal opinion. You cannot say the score is wrong because it isn’t, it’s just the score the reviewer thinks the film is worth. I’m sure there’s a film you rate highly that I would call ‘crap’.

    October 19, 2010

    gerardo @ ring of death said:

    Thanks for sharing your review of the move Gamer. I ended up renting the movie and was not as big of a fan. It had some good points but I felt the overall story was lacking character development. Even the evil “Dexter” could not save this move for me. I would give it a 6/10.

    November 17, 2010

    Haeckel said:

    Gamer is a trashy actioner like Crank or Shoot Em Up but it’s also deeper than it appears. In fact, I would say that along with Sleep Dealer it is one of the more sociopolitically intriguing cyberpunk movies of the last decade. Sure, there’s the Second Life/MMORG/first person shooter thing combined with the voyeurism angle of reality TV. And ‘the sexy lady could be a grotesquely obese guy’ also seen in Surrogates (and any chat room). But there’s also a class aspect not always seen in these movies: the tech that can be used to exploit and manipulate the marginalized can also be used to do the same to everyone - except those who control/own the technology. Like Surrogates it’s about living life through avatars but in a much more incisive way, and hence is more classically cyberpunk. On the other hand, it’s still thoroughly a modern B-movie.

    March 6, 2011

    Maniak12 said:

    I thought this movie would be a cool take on the typical prisoners-play-for freedom-in the future movie, much like Death Race (wich I didn’t like). But was I wrong. I still liked this movie alot, but man it was a shock to the system as I watched it. I didn’t know it was going to be so wierd. Michael C. Hall and Terry Crews were psychotic as hell. And the whole the Sims in Sex Slave thing was pretty messed up too. But the wierdness of it all made me love it even more in the end. And the story was better than I thought was going to be. This movie isn’t for everyone but those are the movies I like best. 10 on the Cyberpunk scale.

    May 19, 2012

    MaTachi said:

    It’s a review. The reviewer’s personal opinion. Stop bashing him and this site because you don’t agree with him in this instance.

    Anyway, I think the movie was an interesting one. Pretty hard to follow at the beginning, but it cleared up to the end.

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