A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mediocre action movie is full of frenetic violence, quick-cut nudity and sexual material, strong language (including lots of uses of "f--k"), and plenty of gore (shootings, stabbings, and more). There's also a general feeling that, just as in their prior Crank and Crank: High Voltage, the filmmakers seem to get great pleasure from trying to offend audiences with this kind of nonstop sexual material, nudity, and violence.
What's the story?
In a near-future world, advances in technology have made it possible to link the central nervous system of one human with another -- so that one person can control the other's actions and acts remotely. A high-tech entrepreneur (Michael C. Hall) has built two lucrative programs from this technology -- one a Second Life-styled social game called Society, and the other a more dangerous, direct form of entertainment called Slayers, in which controlled death row inmates fight and battle -- and anyone who survives 30 "games" earns a pardon. Kable (Gerard Butler) is three games away from his pardon, and his operator, Simon (Logan Lerman), is eager for the glory that achievement will bring him. But as the game grows more deadly, a secret set of facts comes to light, and Kable and Simon both have to fight to survive.
Is it any good?
Glossy and gory, GAMER doesn't offer much to moviegoers aside from hyper-realistic violence and slam-bang slivers of sexual material. Kable's need to liberate himself from the system to save his family is an incredibly familiar plot arc, and the amoral cast of characters occasionally doing the right thing as the plot progresses doesn't do much to hold our interest. The villain is a fairly thin character as well -- his motives are muddled at best, and we're simply supposed to accept his actions without being given much reason as to why.
There's no denying that writer/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have a flair for rapid-fire shooting and cutting; what's more in doubt is whether they can use that hyper-swift style to create anything like coherent storytelling. There are a few smart moments in Gamer (including an inventive way of refueling an abandoned car), but they're by and large adrift in a sea of gore, nudity, and under-written character moments. Gamer is all fizz and sugar, with no real substance or skill behind the wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am plot stolen in bits and pieces from other films.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the tricky questions that often surround video gaming: Is the high-tech simulation of violence a way to blow off steam or a dangerously desensitizing process?
Why do so many people respond so strongly to the idea of living a second, different life through computer technology?
- In theaters: September 4, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: January 19, 2010
- Cast: Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall
- Directors: Brian Taylor, Mark Neveldine
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: frenetic sequences of strong brutal violence throughout, sexual content, nudity and language
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.