Neveldine and Taylor stormed the scene in 2006 when they unleashed Crank onto the masses. Crank 2 established their style and Gamer is the film that takes it even a few steps further. How many fans they're going to lose along the way is hard to predict, but if you're looking for hyperactive craziness, there really is no alternative.
Crank was a fun little action film that abused its simple storyline to put as much adrenaline in its short running time as possible. It was a low budget affair that showcased the duo's talent and would redoubtably lead to more expensive films. As usual, I was a little weary of their next projects as more money often results in more studio involvement, ultimately putting a handbrake on their hyperactive and action-infused style. Gamer proves there was never any reason to worry.
The concept of Gamer is quite fun. It takes the Second Lives of this time and adds some little twists. Not only can you choose an avatar to play with, you can also become the avatar and be played with. A somewhat perverse idea that gets exploited pretty well by the directors. Of course, not long after the initial launch of this technology the concept is applied to gaming software and before you know it there's a bunch of death row convicts killing each other in FPS-like battlefields. Hooray!
Neveldine and Taylor create a pretty fun vision of the future, though not one I'd like to live through. They've taken the trends of the web (nerds, messaging, porn, spam) and enlarged them in their typical uninhabited way. Almost bordering on parody of the current state of the web, their vision is a mix of extremely colorful bubblegum consumerism within a darker and grittier reality. Not that Gamer has much value beyond its fun factor, it's hardly trying to convey a serious message, nonetheless the vision of the director's duo is a welcome addition to the sci-fi genre and much more in tune with our everyday reality than usually the case.
The directors learned a lot from the Crank franchise and went a serious step forwards visually. They cranked up the pace a notch or two, bombarding the viewer with flashy images, hand-held action shots, strobes, tumbling cameras, extreme colors and rather outrageous color corrections. The result is something that is hard to describe and needs to be seen to be believed. Many people will be put off by the flashy appearance, crazy camera work and swift editing, but it is executed with such precision that it is hard not to love.
The soundtrack is quite funny and applied with some big nudges (Bloodhound Gang, really?) but ultimately could've been a little better. Not that it's bad or irritating, but a more mechanical and electronic soundtrack would've served the film a lot better. Acting is decent with Butler leading the film in a pretty good direction. He is cut out for a job like this, though he can't really surpass Statham. The supporting cast is a little uneven though, with Hall and Sedgwick putting in subpar performances.
Gamer is one upping Crank in every department. From the reactions it's obvious that many people consider it simply "too much". But for those of us that can only snicker when they hear comments like "too much" it's an extremely fun and densely detailed film that knows no equal. Neveldine and Taylor are a very playful duo and put on a show that not many could or would dare to mimic.
Don't go in expecting anything serious or realistic and you might even be surprised with the satire running below the entire film. Gamer is a film perfectly tailored to my needs. If you're looking for a short, fun and action-filled film than Gamer is a prime choice. It's extremely visual, fast and without compromise. And above all, it's executed remarkably well. I wonder what the duo could do with a budget in Bay's league.