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Theatrical poster
Directed by Neveldine/Taylor
Produced by Tom Rosenberg
Gary Lucchesi
Richard Wright
Skip Williamson
Written by Neveldine/Taylor
Starring Gerard Butler
Michael C. Hall
Amber Valletta
Logan Lerman
Terry Crews
with Ludacris
and Kyra Sedgwick
Music by Robb Williamson
Geoff Zanelli
Cinematography Ekkehart Pollack
Editing by Fernando Villena
Studio Lakeshore Entertainment
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s) September 4, 2009 (2009-09-04)
Running time 95 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12.5 million
Gross revenue $39,383,813[1]

Gamer is a 2009 science fiction thriller film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.[2] The film stars Gerard Butler as an unwilling participant in an online game in which participants can control human beings as players, and Logan Lerman as the player who controls him. Gamer was released in North America and the United Kingdom on September 16, 2009.



In a near-future New York, mind-control technology has taken the world by storm. Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has revolutionized the gaming industry with his invention of self-replicating nanites. The nanites colonize in the brain, gradually replacing the existing brain cells and allowing full control of all motor functions by a third party. The first major application of this technology allows gamers to control a real person in a pseudo community (much like current simulated worlds such as Second Life but with far more telepresence). Those who work as characters in Society are paid for their participation, unlike Castle's latest creation, Slayers, a multiplayer, third-person shooter game. Slayers allows gamers to control death row prisoners in mass-scale death matches. Any inmate who lives through 30 matches wins a full pardon. Due to Society and Slayers popularity, Ken Castle has become the richest man in the world. Simon, a 17-year old gamer (Logan Lerman) has control over Kable (Gerard Butler), the most recognizable face in Slayers due to him surviving 27 matches, far more than any other participant.

While Castle is interviewed on a talk show, an activist organization called Humanz hijacks the broadcast and claims that Castle will eventually use the nanite technology to control people against their will. They form a plot to free Kable and reveal the true capacity of the nanite technology by offering Simon the ability to speak to Kable in game via a mod. After a stranger gives Kable a warning in his prison cell that the game's mastermind plans to kill him, Kable asks Simon to relinquish control over him in the 30th match. He uses this opportunity to escape and successfully drives out of the deathmatch arena while news outlets report that he has been killed in order to cover up his escape.

Kable is taken to the Humanz leader (Ludacris) who explains that the mind control technology used on Kable and the other Slayers can potentially be used without discretion on anyone, leading to the extinction of independent thought. He also gives Kable directions to where he can break his wife out of Society, where she has been working as an avatar since his incarceration. Kable arrives and after a violent confrontation with security he manages to escape with his wife. He returns to the Humanz base where the rebels attempt to deactivate the nanite cells from his wife's mind. Kable reveals to the Humanz leader that he was once a soldier and part of a program designed to replace the cells in the brain with new longer lasting ones, prolonging good mental health and life. His friend was the first to receive the cell transplant. Castle, the creator of this technology, decided to discover the true ability of the nanites and forced Kable to kill his friend, leading to his conviction for first-degree murder and subsequent death row sentence. The Humanz inform Kable that his daughter was placed in foster care with Castle.

Kable infiltrates Castle's mansion and is confronted by Castle, who leads him to a room with a large basketball court. Castle reveals that his brain is 98% artificial nanites and that his are of the controlling variety while everyone else, including Kable and his wife, has the controllable type. Castle then demonstrates this by beating Kable savagely while restricting him from fighting. Kable's wife and daughter are brought out after it is revealed that most of the Humanz members have been found and killed. Castle then forces Kable to crawl to his family and attempts to force him to kill his own daughter. After a brief struggle of wills Kable manages to stop himself. The last two members of the Humanz broadcast their confrontation and then bring Simon in control of Kable with the control hardware he used to play Slayers with. He interferes with Castle's control and allows Kable to move towards him. Kable then persuades Castle to think about stabbing himself which allows Kable to stab him. After Castle dies, Kable requests for Castle's technicians, who have been watching, to release him and his family from their control. They release them and depart, while walking uncaringly past Castle's dead body. Sometime later, Kable is driving with his daughter and wife down a scenic country road.


  • Gerard Butler as John "Kable" Tillman, the highest-ranked warrior in the game Slayers
  • Amber Valletta as Angie "Nika" Tillman, Kable's wife, a controlled avatar in Society
  • Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle, creator of the games Society and Slayers
  • Logan Lerman as Simon Silverton, the 17-year-old gamer playing Kable
  • Kyra Sedgwick as Gina Parker Smith, famous talk show host
  • Ludacris as Humanz Brother, spokesperson and leader of the Humanz
  • Aaron Yoo as Humanz Dude, a member of the Humanz
  • Alison Lohman as Trace, a member of the Humanz
  • Jonathan Chase as Geek Leader, leader of Castle's technical team
  • John Leguizamo as Freek, an inmate who befriends Kable
  • Terry Crews as Hackman, an inmate sent to kill Kable
  • Zoë Bell as Sandra, an inmate
  • Ramsey Moore as Gorge, the gamer playing Nika
  • Keith David as Agent Keith, a CIA-agent
  • Johnny Whitworth as Scotch, the first person to receive a Nanex-implant
  • Milo Ventimiglia as Rick Rape, described as "Moonraker, silver grill, with a latex outfit making him look like a bumblebee."[3]
  • Sam Witwer as the Caseworker on Angie's custody case
  • Maggie Lawson as the co-host #2
  • James Roday as the co-host #1


In May 2007, Lakeshore Entertainment re-teamed with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the creators of Crank (2006), to produce a "high-concept futuristic thriller" called Game. Neveldine and Taylor wrote the script for Game and were slated to direct the film, while actor Gerard Butler was cast into the lead role.[4]

Production took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico for a 53-day shoot. Filming was at the Albuquerque Studios and on location around Albuquerque. Multistory sets were built on parking lots in downtown Albuquerque to depict buildings that were blown up in the film, and other sets were built on the backlots near the studios.[5] The crew used special hand-held Red One digital cameras, which allowed the special effects team to begin work normally done in post-production after each day's shooting.[6]

In March 2009, the film's working title was changed from "Game" to "Citizen Game".[7][8] In May 2009 another name change was announced, the new name being "Gamer".[9][10][11]


Critical reception has been primarily negative. The New York Daily News, agrees; calling it a "Xerox of a Xerox" and citing a number of films it takes elements from, including The Matrix and Rollerball.[12] RVA Magazine reasoned that Gamer's plot is overly similar to The Condemned and commented that Gamer "hates its primary audience" and "tries to criticize the commercialization of violence, even though it itself is commercialized violence".[13] IGN gave the film a 7.5/10, calling it "an enjoyable film". The film currently holds a 29% "Splat" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus "With all of the hyperkinetic action and none of the flair of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's earlier work, Gamer has little replay value."

The film also had some defenders, The Film Stage gave the film a score of 8/10, calling it "a look at the dangers of a media-infested world, of nonstop advertisement and of the future of youth in a world with ever expanding interactive technology".[14] The films effects, and sound were also praised. Cultural critic Steven Shaviro authored a 10,000 word defense and analysis of the film that he posted online.[15] Shaviro's essay ends with a parenthetical note that observes that "most serious film critics ... tend to prefer 'small, modest, humane, novelistic movies' that go against the entertainment and publicity tide; or else, they cling to 'contemplative cinema,' the long-take, long-shot, sparse-dialogue style that has become a staple of the international festival-and-art-house circuit,"[15] before adding: "I think that there also needs to be a space for critics and theorists to come to terms with films like Gamer, that are fast, cheap, out of control, and knowingly exploitative. Such films are, in their own cheerfully perverse way, in touch with the urgencies of the moment, and with the social Real, in a way that contemplative cinema and modest, humanist cinema are not. These films have their own aesthetic merits, which should not be overlooked out of cine-nostalgia."[15] Shaviro's essay also extensively cites one of the few positive responses to the film, the four-star review[16] written by critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky for The Auteurs' Notebook. Vishnevetsky refers to the film as "proof" of Neveldine & Taylor's "impatient genius, which is really indistinguishable from idiocy."[16]


Box office

Gamer opened with $3.3 million on its opening day, ranking #4 at the box office. In total, the film earned $9,156,057 in its opening weekend. Overall the film grossed $20,534,907 in the domestic box office and $9,529,294 in foreign box offices with a worldwide cumulative of $30,064,251. The film left the box office on October 8, 2009.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Clip - Gamer
  3. ^ Jen Yamato (April 17, 2008). Milo Ventimiglia Gets Dark in Pathology, Talks Role In Neveldine & Taylor's Game Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
  4. ^ Elizabeth Guider (May 16, 2007). Lakeshore, Butler to play 'Game' Variety. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  5. ^ Megan Kamerick (August 31, 2007). New film production fills Albuquerque Studios New Mexico Business Weekly. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  6. ^ Edward Douglas (November 19, 2007). On the Set of Gerard Butler's New Sci-Fi Action Flick! ComingSoon. Retrieved December 9, 2007.
  7. ^ "IGN: Citizen Game Trailer, Wallpaper, Pictures, Soundtrack and More". Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  8. ^ "Lionsgate Publicity". Lionsgate Publicity. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  9. ^ "GAMER – In Theaters September 4". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  10. ^ "Exclusive Poster Premiere: Gamer -". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  11. ^ "UPDATED: Another name change for GAME + new motion poster + Trailer on Xbox live". Retrieved 2009-05-09. 
  12. ^ New York Daily News reviewed negatively of Gamer
  13. ^ RVA's review of Gamer
  14. ^ The
  15. ^ a b c "Gamer". Steven Shaviro. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  16. ^ a b "Now in Theaters: "Gamer"". The Auteurs' Notebook. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 

External links


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