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· 95 minutes
Directed by Nevaldine/Taylor
Written by Nevaldine/Taylor
· Gerard Butler
· Michael C. Hall
· Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges
· Kyra Sedgewick
· Logan Lerman
· Terry Crews
· Amber Valetta
In the not too distant future video games have evolved into their ultimate form, one that's not even really a game at all, but there are games in which you control actual people. There are two games that are the king of this type, the 'Second Life' on acid meets reality called Society, and the ultra violent Slayers deathmatches. In this game, death row convicts fight for their very survival, being controlled by gamers all around the world. The rules are simple, survive. Win thirty battles, and you regain your freedom. The king of the deathmatches is known in game as Kable (Gerard Butler-300). He's just three battles shy of gaining his freedom, and being reuinted with his wife (Amber Valetta-Hitch) who works as a Society avatar. His only problem lies in the fact that the creator of the game, billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall-Dexter) will never let him gain his freedom, as he has a secret which would destroy the world that Castle's built for himself.
Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor, billed ax Nevaldine/Taylor, have once again created an intense action experience. It's more toned down then the Crank series, but it's still a highly stylized, adrenaline fueled picture. There are times when it's almost too intense, at least with the cinematography by Ekkhart Pollack, and the editing of Doobie Taylor and co. that get a little too intense, too closeup and too quick of cuts so you can't really tell what's going on but for the most part I loved the style of the movie. Mainly the contrast between the three 'worlds' of the movie. From the bright and colorful world of 'Society', to the stark whites and grays of the convicts regular life, to the darker greys and browns in Slayers, each 'world' had it's own feel and personality to it, not unlike different levels in a video game.
Gerard Butler proves himself to be a capable action star, one possibly worthy of carrying on the torch left by Schwarzenegger and Stallone in the early '90s. I hope so because it's been a while since we've had a real action hero. *Sidebar- We all thought Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson would have picked up the torch, but he seems to want to do family movies, and nobody outside of Jason Statham has really taken up that mantle as of late. We need more action heroes dammit.* His character in this picture is a bit monosyllabic and underdeveloped, but he's here to give us action not words, and he succeeds at that here.
On the flip side, Michael C. Hall delivers a great performance here as the charismatic Ken Castle. My only complaint with him is that we don't get enough of Castle in the movie. His song and dance sequence towards the end is just brilliant in my opinion. I hope we see more of him in movies in the future.
The use of music in this movie, namely Marilyn Manson's cover of 'Sweet Dreams' and The Bloodhound Gang's Bad Touch are just perfect for this kind of movie, along with the techno they interspersed throughout. It really brought to mind the insane action movies of the '90s, where you'd have stuff like Van Damme fighting Mickey Rourke in the Coliseum while landmines and a tiger are about the premises. Crazyness like that is what Nevaldine/Taylor specalize in. And their choice of music fits the movie perfectly.
The only real flaw of the movie is you don't get to know the characters too much, and the experience comes off rather hollow, not unlike a cheap game, but if you're seeing this movie you're more into it for the action I'd imagine rather than a thought provoking work that makes you question the meaning of free will vs. control.