Watching this film is like watching every 15-year-old's wet dream. There is violence, gunplay, technology, video games, and hot, sexually promiscuous, half-dressed women. What more could you ask for? Well, from someone who is not a 15-year-old boy I could ask for a story, character development and less treatment of women as objects. Am I being too demanding? I think not.
The film starts right away with loud music, eye-popping action and doesn't let up for most of its 95 minute runtime. As I mentioned there is plenty of graphic violence (heads being shot off, brains being splurted against faces, bones being broken in graphic detail, etc.) and nudity. This is not a film that the age category it is aimed at (teenage boys) is going to be able to get in to watch as it is rated R.
Directors Mark Neveldine (Crank, Crank: High Voltage) and Brian Taylor (Pathology, Crank) are well-known for this type of violent action film. They have built up quite a following over the years that they have collaborated. Every frame of the film has a unique editing style coupled with their signature camera work and is fast paced.
What was disappointing to me is that deep underneath all this razzmatazz was an interesting concept/story. The idea of the future being a completely computer controlled environment is a plausible one and paired with a virtual reality game (with more reality than virtual) where the player pays to control an actual human being is very interesting. But the story is not really developed (how this came about, etc.) and takes a backseat to the action. There is a potential for much social criticism in the film, which in all fairness it does attempt, but I don't think your average movie goer will pay much attention to anything but the explosions and exposed breasts.
Everything in Neveldine/Taylor's films is over-the-top and that continues in this film with them even including a fairly hilarious song and dance number involving the talented Michael C. Hall (from television's Dexter). That scene got a big reaction from everyone in the theatre. The saving grace of the film is that it does not take itself too seriously. It is all done tongue-in-cheek and is almost winking at you throughout.
Set in the near future (2034), the world has become obsessed with video games and the creative genius (madman??) behind the lastest craze is Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). This multi-billionaire has created a virtual reality game called "Slayers" in which the player controls an actual human being.
While this type of hybrid game has caught on worldwide like wildfire it does have the downside of plenty of mind control going on to make it work. Castle uses inmates on death row as his 'slayers'. He claims that they are coming to the game of their own free will because it is a choice. A choice they choose because they can either be put to death by the state or win 30 confrontations on "Slayers" and gain their freedom. What do you think they choose?
Kable (Gerard Butler – 300, PS, I Love You) is a slayer who has become a hero worldwide because he has lasted longer than anyone else without getting killed. Kable is controlled by a teenager named Simon (Logan Lerman – 3:10 to Yuma – 2007, Hoot), who has guided him to victory week after week. He just needs a few more victories in order to be released and get back to his wife (Amber Valletta – Transporter 2, Hitch) and daughter. The only catch, besides his opponents trying to kill him, is the fact that for some mysterious reason Castle does not want Kable to be free.