Wednesday, February 8, 2012

3 short paragraphs: Gamer

(aka Citizen Game)

2009, Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor -- Netflix

I was not expecting this from the directors of the Crank films.  The glib, frat-style sexism and racism? Sure, that's a given.  The hyper-ADD editing style?  The beyond comedically absurd stereotyping and inevitable moments of pretension? All here. No, what I was not expecting from Neveldine/Taylor was a film that had any kind of redeemable message at all, nevermind one that had an honest to gosh critique of media saturation and the societal dangers of a virtual existence.

Of course, these themes are presented in a broad and aggressive manner, so as to try and disguise them somewhat under heaps of blood, flash-cut nudity, and a soundtrack that is one part Throbbing Gristle and the other chewing gristle, salacious and unpleasant.  But still, somehow the message comes through: relinquishing your identity blindly to some corporation, be it for entertainment purposes, business, or whathaveyou is not so much a good thing and leads down a dark and dangerous path.

It is, like so many other stories, that of a man, wrongly imprisoned, who must fight his way to freedom via a populist survival game.  Rollerball, The Running Man, Battle Royale, Series 7, Death Race, and The Hunger Games all dabble in this realm, so it doesn't really stake a claim to any innovation or aspire to greatness, but it does do its own thing.  It differentiates itself, and if it weren't for the juvenile tendencies of Neveldine/Taylor that undermine the message, it's really would have a strong resonance.  Also, dear filmmakers, I never need to hear another rendition of Sweet Dreams in a film again, thank you.