Unfortunately, the film is a cacophonous mess without a single interesting character.
In the nearish future, roleplay game-maker Ken Castle (Hall) has made his fortune with two games that let people live vicariously through others: the sex-and-party Society and the war-and-destruction Slayers. The twist is that the gamers are controlling actual people due to nano technology implanted in the performers' brains. In Slayers, they're all death row inmates firing real bullets, and the global megastar performer is Kable (Butler), controlled by rich geek Simon (Lerman). But Kable longs to escape and find his wife (Valletta), and a renegade hacker (Bridges) sets his escape in motion.
While this clever idea allows for all kinds of interesting subthemes, the filmmakers are clearly only interested in two things: naked women and grisly carnage. They put all of their considerable skills to bear in these two areas, indulging in hyperventilating action, exaggerated violence, gratuitously skimpy costumes and glimpses of bare breasts every few minutes. But none of this is remotely enjoyable because it assaults our senses without any coherent context.
And the relentless misogyny and homophobia are simply vile.
Besides the vast plot holes, the film is just overwrought silliness. Sure, it looks great, with the lurid photography, gritty images and textured design, but the characters are all swaggering, overconfident idiots. So the solid cast is left to play mere cartoon characters, really. And none of them seems to be having much fun either, although Hall gives it a go by chomping shamelessly on the scenery like a Bond villain on acid.
Eventually, everything boils over into even bigger, nastier carnage, as Slayers invades Society and then society before converging in a truly surreal confrontation that's choreographed like a Bob Fosse musical number. And it has to be noted that Ventimiglia's appearance, in a skin-tight PVC catsuit, is the film's quirkiest sequence. Although when the script strains for a thinly developed reunited family sentimentality, there's nothing we can do but groan.
Where's Jason Statham when we need him?
Run time: 95 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th September 2009
Box Office USA: $20.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $40.8M
Distributed by: Lionsgate Films
Production compaines: Lionsgate, Lakeshore Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%
Fresh: 22 Rotten: 54
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Starring: Gerard Butler as Kable, Michael C. Hall as Ken Castle, Logan Lerman as Simon, Amber Valletta as Angie, Terry Crews as Hackman, Kyra Sedgwick as Gina Parker Smith, Ludacris as Humanez Brother, Alison Lohman as Trace, Milo Ventimiglia as Rick Rape, Aaron Yoo as Humanez Dude, John Leguizamo as Freek, Johnny Whitworth as Scotch, Zoë Bell as Sandra, Ashley Rickards as 2Katchapredator, Brighid Fleming as Delia, Maggie Lawson as Female News Host #1, Nikita Ramsey as Kumdumpsta #1, Jade Ramsey as Kumdumpsta #2, Mimi Michaels as Stikkimuffin, Sadie Alexandru as Society Victim
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