Sunday, 25 April 2010

Deadly Prey (1987)

Director: David A. Prior

A low-budget Rambo: First Blood knock-off, Deadly Prey looks like a cross between gay porn and a snuff movie, a comparison accentuated by the cruddy VHS visuals I saw it in that made everything look cheap and sordid. Yet this film is a blast since it’s a lot of 1980s muscular dudes stomping around a park where location shoots were cheap, punching and shooting each other into poorly-choreographed oblivion! What we have here are numerous Soldiers of Fortune operating in a forest clearing outside of Los Angeles where nobody notices all the infantry, all the tanks and all the helicopters sitting pretty out in the open. C’mon, the late 1980s was a boom-time for mercenaries who could make millions working for tin-pot dictators in countries like Parmestan. Mind you, wannabe mercs don’t just jump into the war-zone without some experience! Thus the insane ex-army general Don Michaelson (Troy Donahue) orders his men to kidnap random people off the street and turn them into “runners” i.e. contestants for the Most Dangerous Game, yes, the of hunting humans for sport or rather for training purposes (this was before paintball was invented, I guess).

First scene follows a squad of tubby mercs in camo gear and Aviator shades chasing a tubby Spanish dude who in one scene manages to survive a grenade they lob at him (blows up at his feet, but no big deal, only scraped his knee) and brains one of them with a rock. However, before you think this dude is the film’s hero (too fat) he is surrounded in a clearing and screams “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo” before he is shot in the gut by the evil alpha henchman Lt. Thornton (Fritz Matthews). No-one can wear Aviator shades and a muscle t-shirt like this guy! Anyway, Thornton cannot abide any of his men getting hit with a rock so he takes his pistol and shoots the weakling soldier (a recurring motif). What’s great about Deadly Prey is that after this ten minute set-up, it completely dispenses with the real business of a First Act. We are introduced to our hero, Michael ‘Mike’ Danton (Ted Prior), a Dolph Lundgren lookalike with the perfect 1980s mullet-and-muscles combo and all we learn about Danton is that he sleeps in a water bed and is married to a big-breasted blonde wife, Jaimy (Suzanne Tara), who cooks him eggs for breakfast. Wearing little more than tight crotch-hugging denim cut-offs outside, Mike indulges in some regular guy bullshit like taking out the trash before being nabbed and grabbed by mercs in an unmarked van who were scouting out for a new “runner” in that street: “This guy looks like a lot of fun” we hear a merc remark in one of the many lines reminiscent of Deliverance. Boom! Hero shot of Danton as the camera pans up his oily muscular body while the soundtrack kicks out with its synthesizer bombardment of “BAMFS”!

Deadly Prey then enters the narrative equivalent of an action-packed mobius strip since the first half of the movie involves Danton running around the forest like Tarzan and the Predator combined, killing stupid mercs left and right, and then the last half of the movie involves Danton running around the forest like Rambo and Commando combined, killing stupid mercs left and right. I believe if you screened the film in reverse, it would make just as much sense. The acting might also be improved particularly Prior’s fierce annunciation of his lines, which he emotionally strangles with all the agonised fury he can, putting Stallone to shame in the slurring stakes: “How does a man go from being the highest decorated officer in the Special Forces to being some goddamn bloodsucking mercenary?” Yes, it turns out that Michaelson the bad guy was Danton’s old colonel back in Vietnam so they have a convenient back-story much like Rambo and Colonel Trautman but with increased homosexual tension. These confrontation scenes are brilliant not only for the high quality of ACTING and the wisdom of the writing (“They said I was crazy! War was crazy!”) but the fact they break up the monotony of Danton springing up on some slack-jawed merc in countless scenes; whether Danton is hiding in the thick of the jungle (sorry, forest) or hiding in the water to jump out like Jason in Crystal Lake or best of all hiding in the ground, buried in the leaves as a trap for any wayward enemy footsoldier, springing out like a Californian surfer-dude zombie with a knife in his hand and screaming, “GARRRGH!” The Z-Grade budget means that the props and the supporting cast are not up to scratch, which results in some truly hilarious action sequences where people are shot with what look and sound like cap guns. Then we have the supporting actors hesitate for thirty seconds before deciding that, yes, they have been shot, and finally reacting to the blood-pack that has popped in their chest.

Naturally for a 1980s bullshit action movie there’s a strong undercurrent of sexism and misogyny one has to contend with. The former can be seen in Michaelson’s bitchy second-in-command, Sybill (Dawn Abraham) who is dressed in standard issue military uniform of tight green singlet and no-pants, well, thigh-high cut-offs. She engages in pseudo-S-and-M torture and seething insults to the captured Danton, who is tied to a chair with a loose piece of rope. Michaelson and Thornton also kidnap Danton’s blonde wife who is thusly sexually ravaged and confesses this to her ex-cop father on the case (Cameron Mitchell, a cut-rate William Shatner type) with the painful line, “They raped me, daddy!” Well, not to worry, the hero proves to be as vile as the villains in his retribution particularly when he finally escapes to his house and finds Sybill there with a gun, informing him that his pretty little wife has been kidnapped. After a phone call with Michaelson to substantiate this, Danton turns on his acting chops once again and sneers, “Fuck you!” to Sybill, knocking her out cold with the phone and then shooting her three times while she’s unconscious! COLD AS ICE! Deadly Prey is also righteously nasty in the way a low-budget action movie VHS-release-only flick can be.

What other genius scenes does this sucker include?

  • Michaelson’s boss turns out to be a distinguished grey yuppie businessman who arrives at the merc camp in a suit and delivers lines like “You’ve got one month, not a day more!” and “I’m a businessman, not a fool” with the lifeless affect of Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Danton is cornered by a moustached merc who he knocks out easily enough and then PICKS HIM UP and then SLAMS him against a tree, breaking his back. Oh yeah, he also knocks out another merc with the fakest looking prop of an apparently thick tree log straight out of The Flintstones. Last but not least, Danton faces off with a muscular blonde Danton-lookalike merc who carries a huge machete. On his back, Danton defends himself with what’s lying around – it’s a STICK! – and yes, he stabs the stick through the blonde muscular merc with the swiftness of a sword. The forest is Danton’s weapon!
  • Michaelson surmising the situation with the dead bodies piling up with the intuitive conclusion: “I know this style. This is my style. Danton? Mike Danton? ... I trained him. I know his style!” Then later around a camp fire, someone else remarks of Danton’s style: “He went through our men like they were toy soldiers!” Danton's Epitaph... THIS GUY'S GOOD!
  • Danton bumping into one of Michaelson’s men, Cooper (William Zipp) who is friendly to him and becomes a quasi-ally for this reason: “I haven’t seen you since you took that bullet to save my life back in ‘Nam.” One of the best lines of dialogue written ever! Take that, Robert Towne!
  • Hiding out in the forest like a castaway on The Blue Lagoon, Danton lives off the land and eats something that looks like a fat worm but was possibly a leftover Allen’s snake lolly.
  • The Thornton-lead squadron look for Danton in a section of the forest, glancing everywhere around them and then splitting up. The camera pans to the right to find Danton stuck up a tree hiding IN PLAIN SIGHT. Capped off with another synth-BAMF!
  • Thornton with his trusty Aviators on stumbles across another merc corpse. One of Thornton’s men starts to shake and quiver with true “Game over, man!” panic, yelling: “We’re not hunting him! He’s hunting us!” If that wasn’t hilarious enough, Thornton turns around and mutters, “Awful performance” (actually he yells, "Suck this!") and shoots the poor guy in the stomach (these mercenaries have a quick turn-over rate).
  • When Thornton gets the drop on Danton, they engage in some light kickboxing action and then clocking his gun at Danton’s head with the puzzling one-liner: “End of story!” However, Michaelson wants Danton alive and they engage in another confrontation scene with this priceless exchange on the merits of mercenary work:
DANTON: “Blood money!”
MICHAELSON: “It’s all green!”
  • Danton’s escape involves him placing a grenade down a sentry’s pants. Explosion and then a cut away to a smoking boot of the blown-up sentry. What is this, a fucking cartoon? More outlandishness in the scenes where Danton faces off solo against a tank easily (throwing a grenade in the opening) and then a helicopter (shoots it into stock footage explosion).
  • When the ex-cop father of Danton’s girlfriend corners the distinguished grey businessman and rips into an out-of-nowhere 10-minute monologue about how he spent thirty years as a cop with “filth in the street, there’s no music down there... blah blah”, about how corporate scumbags like him get away with murder and so he shoots the unarmed businessman three times. Later, the ex-cop father brandishing a shotgun comes across a merc and asks the question:
EX-COP FATHER: “Friend or enemy?”
MERC: “Friend!”
EX-COP FATHER: “You’re a liar” [BOOM]
  • The action climax where Danton goes Commando, reborn with face-paint and war-face and weapons galore, exchanging lame gunfire with the dopey remaining mercs, only to kill them all with twig-death-traps and one bazooka blast that blows up everyone. Of course, this leads to the Clash of the Titans between Danton and Thornton after Danton is too late to stop Thornton from shooting his wife dead, so he runs over to him with machete drawn, miraculously unimpeded by the bullets Thornton is firing at close range (the power of love, y’know), and he chops off Thornton’s arm and then beats him to death with his SEVERED ARM! While the sequence begs a suitable pun (“You’re disarmed!”), instead we have some grim shit where Danton scalps Thornton’s dead body, clutching a rubber wig with corn syrup in his hands as a trophy. Cut to the nihilistic conclusion where Danton with his wife dead and his life ruined, confronts Michaelson, forces him to take off his shirt and his shoes and become a “runner”, thus turning the hunter into the hunted but not before one more animalistic scream into the sunlight: “ARRRRGH!”

Deadly Prey... truly a bullshit action movie masterpiece of epic proportions. Much thanks to Everything Is Terrible for alerting me to this VHS classic. Check out their 3-minute summation of Deadly Prey’s considerable highlights:

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Obsessed (2009)

Obsessed must be the first film adaptation of a letter to the GQ advice column: “My secretary is obsessed with me! How do I fend off her advances while keeping my Brooks Brothers suits immaculately pressed?” Yes, Obsessed is Fatal Attraction in the Workplace, which means it’s basically the Disclosure of our times, warning us about the rise in sexual harassment against male bosses by their female underlings. Our tale begins with Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire) and Beyonce Knowles (Yes, Beyonce in her first non-singing role) moving into their new two-storey suburban mansion with their baby son, throwing the ‘For Sale’ into the fireplace whilst they cosy up underneath the mirror on their bedroom ceiling. So you have two extremely fine specimens of the human race in a happy relationship in a beautiful home... it’s too good to be true! I felt the first warning sign of trouble for this movie was the onscreen cast credit “With Jerry O’Connell,” but that’s just me. Thankfully O’Connell provides one of the dumbest lines in the movie as Elba’s frat-boy office colleague during a business meeting where their boss, Bruce McGill, notices the shape of a new female employee:

MCGILL: “Whose legs are those?”

ELBA: “That’s the new office temp.”

O’CONNELL: “More like temp-tress.”

Drinks on the house from the screenwriter because he got PAID for that line!

Yes, Elba is in the elevator to work when he spots Ali Larter from Heroes, they engage in some banter and she “accidentally” drops the manila folders she was holding. I did wonder whether Elba had used Lynx aftershave because this is usually how their commercials depict the consequences of the Lynx Effect. Whilst helping her with the files, Elba looks too long at her legs and the obsession flares up! Soon enough Elba’s secretaries are taking ill with the cold and Ali Larter takes over their duties and she is just TOO EFFICENT – Gasp! Horror! Not since Lara Flynn Boyle in The Temp! Larter knows what type of coffee Elba likes (black, one sugar) and knows that he likes to send flowers to his wife first thing in the working day. Based on the subtlety so far displayed in this movie, I’m surprised they don’t pipe through Gnarls Barkely’s ‘Crazy’ into the soundtrack every time she does something obsessive like burn him some live Crudo bootleg CDS (“Dan the Automator is king!” he writes to her on office chat)! The usual notes are hit with a movie like this: one scene where Beyonce is like “not tonight, honey” because she wants to study, one scene where Elba tells Beyonce that the new office temp is “plain-looking”, and one scene where Beyonce visits the office with her baby boy and sees how pretty the new temp actually is. Larter says hello to the baby but the baby is eerily quiet. As Beyonce says, “That’s strange. He’s usually not this shy around strangers.” Thank goodness babies contain crazy stalker radar – THE SON SENSES SHE’S EVIL! Then Elba walks into the office tea room and finds Ali Larter crying. Here’s some more original dialogue from writer David Loughery:

ELBA: “Why are you crying?”

LARTER: “Oh, allergies...”

ELBA: “What are you allergic to?”

LARTER: [pause] “Men.”

Skip along to Larter “accidentally” bumping into Elba at a upper-class bar while he’s having a beer and a burger, soon enough they’re having “Dirty Martinis” and high-fiving each other, and then it’s the Office Christmas party and they’re standing under Mistletoe surprise surprise, and then Elba goes to the bathroom and Ali Larter follows him into a stall, gyrating against him like a Las Vegas showgirl. Obsessed? This movie should be called Shameless! So, Elba is Trapped in the Bathroom and he’s being a good boy resisting, throwing her aside, and returning home and not telling his wife about the fact his crazy temp tried to sex him up. Then it escalates to Ali Larter jumping into Elba’s car in a trench-coat and revealing she’s only wearing fancy underwear and despite Elba’s protests she won’t listen to reason (she’s obsessed, y’see) and she’s sending him e-mails with multiplying images of herself (thrilling sequence where Elba tries to delete them all whilst his wife is in the same room - quick, delete the JPEGS, String!).

Elba is bugging out and goes to a weekend resort retreat with O’Connell and their boss where Ali Larter is, slipping Rohypnol into his drink and taking advantage of him while he is falling in and out of consciousness in his hotel bed. The next morning, Elba is furious and threatens Ali Larter to which she replies, “Go on. Hit me. You can do anything you want to me.” Finally Elba finds her again in his hotel bed after trying to commit suicide with a punch of sleeping pills. Christine Lahti turns up as a cop investigating the case and finally all of these stalking shenanigans are revealed to Beyonce the dutiful wife who angrily throws Elba out while Larter recovers in hospital. Then Elba is given leave from work because of a possible sexual harassment charge to which Bruce McGill provides one of the funnier lines with his comment, “By now I bet you wished you had banged her for all the trouble she’s causing you.”

Skip ahead to Elba and Beyonce making up, throwing on some classy threads and eating at a classy restaurant whilst Ali Larter breaks into their home and kidnaps their kid, leaving the baby boy in their other car with a love note. NOT COOL, DUDE. So Beyonce helped produce this sucker and her character is pretty much in the background for most of the movie with Elba as the protagonist, but then she steps up to the plate with a close-up of her ringing Larter and leaving this message on her phone: “You think you’re crazy, I’ll show you crazy! Now try me, bitch!” CAAAAAAAN YOU DIG IT? I dig it, movie. Yes, the most generic movie in the world finally takes it up a notch in the climax when Larter breaks into their home again, throwing on Elba’s college football sweater and waiting for him to return home, but Beyonce comes home because she forgot to switch on their security system and she catches Larter in her bedroom and then it is on for young and old. We have a knock-down, clash of the titans, catfight with Beyonce versus Ali Larter as they throw each other around the room and throw each other down the stairs, kicking and clawing like the Switchblade Sisters. They even chase each other up into the top of the house where Beyonce in her brown boots tricks Ali Larter who is swinging a block of wood around the place to step out onto the thin attic floor where Ali Larter falls through, hanging on for dear life. Now we can’t have Beyonce wanting to intentionally kill someone so she snaps out of the Warrior Queen mentality she was going through and offers help, “C’mon, take my hand.” Ali Larter takes her hand, but she’s still a psycho-hose-beast and tries to drag Beyonce down, but Beyonce won’t have that shit, and has to let her go to save her own life, so we have Ali Larter fall down smash bang into a glass table, but she’s still alive! SAY WHAT? Thankfully the chandelier hanging over head breaks and falls with the sharp end stabbing deep into the psycho crazy obsessed stalker’s chest. Elba returns home to find his wife battered but victorious: no woman is going to steal her man or her baby. Then in a profound moment of actor-producer-star fusion the image of Beyonce hugging her man is scored to her song, ‘Crash Into You.’ So, yes, eighty minutes of pure predictability and ten minutes of Beyonce Action Hero awesomeness. I wish they could have just made the whole be about that whole epic beat-down with breaks for more Beyonce songs whilst she and Ali Larter took a breather between punches. In fact, recast Ali Larter with Lady Ga Ga and think about how the Telephone music video could be a feature film extravaganza rather sit through a weekly rental like Obsessed.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Gamer (2009)

Have you ever entertained the notion whilst you’re decimating soldier-shaped pixels on Call of Duty, spoken aloud to yourself as another man blows up in a shower of graphically-realistic guts:“What if that guy I’m playing, the dude running around onscreen and killing dudes as I press the X button, what if that dude was like real?” MINDEXPLOSION TOWN, POPULATION: YOU! I’m sure you have especially if you’re like fifteen years old and have an ex-rental copy of The Matrix: Reloaded, the cover of which you use to roll your very first joint of The Pot. The thought has also occurred to Neveldine/Taylor, the directing duo of douchebags who made Crank, which functioned itself as a live action videogame what with its 1980s-video-game graphic title card and Jason Statham running around like Sonic the Hedgehog trying to keep his heart pumping and his dick hard by doing crazy shit. Neveldine/Taylor were probably blowing up some Nazi soldiers on Call of Duty: The Search for Hitler's Bunker while they reclined on leather couches, their feet resting upon the naked prostitutes they pay money to act as flesh-furniture, cocaine and crack on their crevices, while they bluetoothed their agent into finding some immigrants to enter into illegal bum-fights in the bowels of their Hollywood mansion, and the thought struck, “Let’s make a fucking movie about this fucked up shit.” Or as they so eloquently describe on the making of: “This movie was birthed in the canals of reality TV and UFC and the internet...” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Gamer, another in the long line of sci-fi action movies that ask the question, ‘What is reality?’ The answer: explosions and shit.

Yes, Gamer is set “Some years from this exact moment” (as a title card helpfully informs us) with Marilyn Manson’s cover of ‘Sweet Dreams’ sneaking over the soundtrack as the global community of online media goes ape-shit for the biggest game/reality program, Slayers, with its featured players projected onto the sides of gigantic office buildings and the title stencilled across walls everywhere in the world. We proceed to experience what Slayers is basically like as we follow behind Kable (Gerald Butler), our hero, grunting along a deserted city block, blowing away other dirty-faced soldiers as explosions continually spark in warehouse warzones. Along with the fragmented cutting and hand-held camera work, it’s like you’re watching the climax to Children of Men, but it’s like more cool and shit, because it’s violence and it’s death and you don’t know what’s going, so who gives a fuck anyway, dude. Or as a colleague Nelly said while watching it: “I feel like I’m on crack just watching this.”

You might be confused as to what’s going on but not to worry Kyra Sedgwick pops up as the glamourpuss host of The Exposition/Backstory Chatshow where she interviews the creator of Slayers, Ken Castle (Michael C.Hall) who helpfully explains what the fuck is going on. See, he’s a Bill Gates clone with a broad Southern accent and philosophical nuggets like “You can get paid to be controlled or you can control to get paid” or “We live in society, we visit society.. . which one’s real?” During this sequence, Hall provides the movie with a big slice of ham with his devious and smarmy character; he’s an avator himself being controlled by an unseen Gary Oldman for over-the-top villain perfection. Y’see, Castle pioneered the mind-map viral network where implants are stored in people’s heads which means they become human avators and can be played and controlled and manipulated by gross individuals in the privacy of their dank rooms. Castle’s first success was Society, an online simulation game where people put on their best wacky Cosplay shit and stand around in a city square acting like they’re in a Dave LaChappelle photoshoot doing crazysexy stuff (Wow, a Hari Krishna listening to a boombox! A priest running around with balloons! TAKE THAT, SOCIAL ORDER!). Castle’s next game is Slayers, which features prisoners signing up to participate in online warzone death games in order to have their sentences commuted; freedom comes at a cost though... 30 missions successfully completed. It’s all very Running Man/Rollerball basically with death sports providing some sort of quasi-satirical critique on society at large through our valorisation of future-gladiators like Kable. And of course, there is an underground pro-freedom anti-authority rebel alliance with pirate transmissions that interrupt the global cable video game uplink with the face and the voice of their leader... Ludacris!

Speaking of Gladiator, Kable sits in the white-sand prison, letting the soil drift through his hand, thinking of his wife and child in nostalgic sepia-tinged flashbacks, just like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Just in case you weren’t exactly clear what Kable’s motivation was, he also has a tattoo on one arm that reads, “I am right here with you.” I get it; he misses his family and shit. That’s what you call characterisation, dude! When he doesn’t have John Leguizamo as a crazed prisoner popping up and whispering improvised shit into his ear about “how spooky he is,” Gerald Butler is ready for the next round of Slayers and we find out that he is controlled by this wealthy 17-year-old douchebag that stands in his circular Minority Report-styled internet hovel, ignoring various requests from online teenage sluts with respectful names like ‘Kumdumpsters” and buying weapon applications that are not “gay” so that he can perform balletic movements that control Butler’s actions in the game, which is all really confusing because who is actually doing all the work here? Butler or the kid? It’s not really explored in any depth nor their relationship as player and playee (or as someone lamely says, “What are you going to be - a player or a slayer?”) Anyway, there is a gloriously lame poetry-of-war moment where we see Butler killing dudes in the warzone with the douchebag kid superimposed behind him, performing the same Tai Chi gestures in the bullet-time Matrix world they all live in. Then there’s the new future hero of the Slayers, Hackman (Terry Crews), a big black dude who keeps cracking his neck and being insane and visiting Gerald Butler in the showers naked, singing some song about “puppet masters” and “strings.”

The most completely bullshit aspect about Gamer is its attempt to have its cake and eat it too by casting judgement on the sick fucks that enjoy the sex and violence in online games like Society and Slayers. Like we cut to another round of Slayers where Gerard Butler visits the Come to Daddy music video set for a grim battleground of flaming motorcyclists and exploding heads and severed limbs. Then the slow-motion cinematography creeps in and the soft piddly-piano music (seriously they almost play ‘Mad World’) and it’s like “Oh man, ever think about the pain and horror that must happen in war and shit? What a bummer. Must really suck. Onto the next level of Call of Duty: Kill Haji Motherfuckers Dead!” As my colleague Dan pointed out, “This is war-porn basically.” From war-porn to softcore, we also follow Kable’s wife, Angie (Amber Valetta) who is an actress and works in Society basically disconnecting her identity to be controlled by an obese dude who sits naked in his dark apartment forever touching his sweaty skin in ecstasy at the sick shit he makes Angie do. Dressed up like an anime sexbot at a comic convention, we see Angie being sexed on by some dude with a pig-nose and get the close-up of her crotch getting rubbed, thanks to Neveldine/Taylor, and then they cut back to the fat gross dude because he is the type of scumbag getting off on this type of shit, not them, by any means. "We’re filmmakers, dudes, making a profound cultural commentary on internet culture and the fat dudes who whack off to this bizarre crap, not like us at all, who write and directed this shit. It’s a statement, man!" Very fitting for a writing-directing team whose aesthetic can be likened to that of a 15-year-old-boy simultaneously cutting himself on one arm whilst masturbating furiously with the other free hand. Yeah, the internet is fucked, dudes. Real Life exists in the hope of reuniting with your underwritten family or the social issues like Health Care that get two minutes of dialogue when Gerald Butler escapes from the Slayers game and contacts the rebel alliance known as the Humanz who say things like “That’s right, it’s a game! You’ve got to cut the strings, puppet master!”

Other highlights from Gamer include: Butler downing a bottle of whiskey before playing Slayers, then puking up and pissing into a deserted car’s petrol cap in order to provide fuel to escape in an insanely illogical sequence worthy of Crank; a welcome appearance by character actor Keith David as Agent Keith, the FBI dude interrogating the punk kid as to Kable’s whereabouts once he’s escaped; the presence of old video arcade games like Galaga and air-hockey tables at the rebellion’s headquarters because back then you knew when a game was a game; a memory doctor employed to hack into Butler’s mind and see the Manchurian Candidate mind-controlled murder he was involved in; Heroes’ Milo Ventimiglia popping up as a weirdo in Society named Rick Rape who wears leather and almost sexes Angie (wearing a red wig and blue underwear so she's basically Lee-Loo in The Fifth Element) before Gerald Butler steps in and breaks Milo’s back over his knee; the final confrontation between Butler and Hall where Hall leads a group of henchmen into a lip-synched dance of ‘(I’ve Got You) Under My Skin’ to demonstrate his complete mind control of other people through advanced ‘Built to Send’ technology; Gerard Butler killing Terry Crews twice, the second time snapping his neck twice for no discernible reason (are you less dead on the first neck snap?); Hall shirtless showing off his ripped pecs and engaging in a Bruce Lee tribute with his beatdown of Butler; then Butler with the help of the kid breaking Hall’s mind control, stabbing him in the gut, reunited with his family, letting all the mind-controlled human avatars free and driving off into the sunset as the title card pops up, ‘GAME OVER.’

There is a lot of bullshit discussion on the Making Of where Neveldine/Taylor, sipping beer cans with the logos blacked out (Hey, we leafed through Noami Klein and shit), framing Gamer as their attempt at a mainstream audience after the success of Crank, which they compared to a constant “punishment” for both the characters in Crank and the people watching Crank. However, they maintain their individuality and personality as auteurs throughout Gamer, particularly a scene where Gerald Butler escapes from footsoldiers into a bizarrio FUTURE RAVE sequence where everyone wears neon colours and dresses like they’re in the 1990s. As laser sights target Butler’s face, stray bullets hit random ravers. We close-up momentarily on an attractive young black girl in a white wig who gets shot and then spectacularly flies across the room with the impact of the bullet and I had to exclaim knowingly, “Ah, it’s a Neveldine/Taylor film!” With a persistent delight in semi-nude attractive female bystanders being violently dispatched during hyper-stylised shootouts, their auteur themes prevail.