|Gamer is a 2009 American science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. The film stars Gerard Butler as a 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 on September 4, 2009 and the United Kingdom on September 16, 2009.|
In a near-future New York, eccentric Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) has revolutionized the gaming industry with his invention of self-replicating nanites that replace existing brain cells and allow full control of all motor functions by a third party. The first major application of this technology is a game called Society, which allows gamers to control a real person in a pseudo community (much like current simulated worlds such as The Sims or Second Life but with far more telepresence and mind control). This generally boils down to the players engaging in all manner of debauchery, such as deliberately injuring their “characters”, engaging in sex with random people, and eating disgusting things because they don’t actually have to taste it. As a result, those who work as “characters” in Society are very well paid for their participation. A second game, Slayers, is a multiplayer, third-person shooter game with death-row prisoners as avatars in genuinely lethal battles. Any inmate who lives through thirty matches wins a full pardon. Simon, a seventeen-year old gamer (Logan Lerman) has control over the avatar, John “Kable” Tillman (Gerard Butler), the most recognizable face and the best soldier in Slayers due to having survived twenty-seven matches, far more than any other participant in Slayers’ history, marking him as one of the harder targets.
While Castle, now fabulously wealthy from the success of the two games, is interviewed on a talk show, an activist organization called the “Humanz” hijacks the broadcast and claims that Castle will eventually use the nanite technology to control people against their will. After a stranger gives Tillman a warning in his prison cell that the game’s mastermind plans to kill him, Tillman asks Simon to relinquish control over him in the thirtieth match. He uses this opportunity to escape and successfully drives out of the deathmatch arena while news outlets report that he has been officially listed as fragged.
Tillman is taken to the Humanz leader (Ludacris) who explains that the mind control technology can potentially be used without discretion on anyone, leading to the “extinction of independent thought”. Tillman seeks out his wife Angie (Amber Valletta), who has been working as an avatar for a particularly heinous Society player. After a violent confrontation with security he manages to escape with her. He returns to the Humanz base where the rebels deactivate the nanite cells in Angie’s brain.
Tillman reveals to the Humanz leader that he was convicted of murder when Castle used the mind control technology to force him to murder his best friend. Upon learning that Castle has adopted his daughter, Tillman infiltrates his mansion. Castle leads him to a room with a large basketball court and, after a song-and-dance number, using mind-controlled Slayer warriors as backup dancers, reveals that the nanites in his brain allow him to control others infested by the technology. To demonstrate, Castle beats Tillman savagely while restricting him from fighting back. Angie and their daughter are brought out after Castle reveals that most of the Humanz have been found and killed. Castle then allows Tillman to crawl to his family and attempts to force him to kill his own daughter, though Tillman resists. The last two members of the Humanz broadcast this confrontation and then give Simon control of Tillman. He interferes with Castle’s control and allows Tillman to move towards him.
The interference and Tillman’s prompting that Castle think about stabbing himself allows Tillman to shove the knife into Castle’s chest. After Castle dies, Tillman convinces Castle’s technicians to release them from the nanite control, as they have been “played” for too long.
The technician that does so, simply walks away, after saying “Well played, Kable”. The film closes with a shot of the Tillmans road-tripping, much like Kable’s first flashback about his family.