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Gamer is a 2009 sci-fi/action film written and directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, starring Gerard Butler as John "Kable" Tillman, a death row inmate who is forced to battle against other prisoners in an "online game" (not really online...) called Slayers (no relation to the light novel/anime), with their every move controlled by a young gamer's remote device. If they survive 30 matches, they get a full pardon.

To the players, Kable and the other inmates are just simulated characters. But to a resistance group that opposes the game's now-billionaire inventor Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), Kable, who has just survived his record-setting 27th match, is a critical piece of their plan to end the sinister inventor's form of high-tech slavery.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Alcohol Is Gasoline: In an particularly egregious example, "Humanz" pulls strings to aid Tillman in his escape, and smuggle vodka into his prison for him to use as vehicle fuel. Prior to the match Tillman chugs the vodka to disrupt the nanites and his "gamer's" control over his actions. When combat begins, Tillman makes a dash for an abandoned car park where he pukes the alcohol into a truck's gas tank, hotwires the car, and speeds away.
  • And I Must Scream: The opening combat sequence of Slayers is horrific enough; then it is revealed that the Slayers aren't even in control of their own bodies, and can't move or respond to threats they see, unless the player commands them to:
    Kable: Turn me around...
    • After the second match shown, one of the players breaks down completely and screams that they're all going to die:
      Who's playing us? Who the fuck is playing us?!
  • Anti-Hero: Kable is the Unscrupulous Hero type. He is a death-row inmate, battles his fellow prisoners in a violent online game called "Slayers," his every move controlled by a young gamer's remote device. But, to a resistance group that opposes the game's inventor, Kable is a critical component of their plan to end the inventor's form of high-tech slavery.
  • Artistic License – Cars: The strategy Tillman uses to fuel the truck in the above example would not even come close to working in reality. It takes very concentrated ethanol to power a vehicle and the potable alcohol he drank has been further diluted by his body processing it.
  • Ax-Crazy: Hackman is a mountainous inmate who enjoys killing way, way too much. Lampshaded when Kable notes that he really isn't right in the head when Hackman comes to boast about killing another prisoner.
  • Batman Gambit: Castle first tries to sell his Mind Control Nanites to the military, it folds, then turns it into 2 games, with plans to disperse it aerially to Take Over the World. Honestly, if he had skipped right to that last step (and we don't know if he didn't) all it would take is one hacker to turn us ALL into zombies.
  • Baddie Flattery: After Kable delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle on Castle's goons, Castle simply stands by and cheerfully compliments Kable with a simple "You're awesome!"
  • Big Bad: Ken Castle, the billionaire inventor and organizer of the virtual Deadly Game.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Castle doesn't kill all of the Humanz when he has a chance, bragging that soon they'll be under his control anyway when he disperses the Nanex all over the globe; This gives Tina and Mace plenty of time to transmit a code to Simon that allows him to retake control of cable.
  • The Chessmaster: Castle is a master schemer that manipulates multiple parties and outplays them without much effort. Unfortunately, he let this go to this head, which is ultimately his undoing.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Well, not really, since Kable isn't a computer, but it's acknowledged in the film that he takes control during key moments during the games, giving him a better chance of surviving.
  • Condemned Contestant: All the contestants in Slayers are death row inmates.
  • Crapsack World: People seem to have absolutely no regard for human life. It makes some sense in Slayers considering they're death row inmates society no longer cares for but the same attitude is shown in Society with innocent people controlled by sociopathic gamers to act out twisted pleasures for the sake of money. Not to mention Castle is controlling society by providing a solution to the overpopulation of the prison system threatening to bankrupt the US and the impending collapse of the US health system. The economy is apparently so awful large numbers of people choose to sign up to be avatars for Society knowing they could be raped, crippled, or killed to have some source of income.
  • Curbstomp Battle: The final confrontation between Kable and Hackman. Mostly because Castle was in control of Hackman.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The cause of Castle's downfall, right before Kable kills him. A surprising example considering how tech-savvy Castle is-he really should have seen this coming.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Apparently, Castle started inventing virtual worlds because he ran out of real-world scenery to chew.
  • Fan Service Extra: In universe. In one of the Slayers maps, there is a woman who only exists to lift up her shirt and flash the players her sculpted plastic bust.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Lampshaded with a very somber quip. In the Hellhole Prison where Kable is locked up, one of the inmates completely loses it and tears out his own throat while no one bothers to stop him. When the guards arrive to question what happened, an old con wearily notes "looks like he escaped".
  • Foreshadowing: "Whatever I think, they'll do". In the end, Kable starts to describe Castle in very graphic way what he's going to do to him to kill him, which Castle of course starts to think about, and thus turning the Restraining Bolt on Kable against himself.
  • Genius Bruiser: Kable. He's a big, gruff ex-military that can fight through a battlefield all on his own. He's also capable of elaborate planning, often on the fly, and routinely outsmarts people. It also helps that everyone takes his looks for granted, thinking him nothing more than a Dumb Muscle.
  • Genre Deconstruction: It's a particularly nasty deconstruction of First Person Shooters and social simulators like The Sims, with actual people being controlled by players as avatars for the games. The "Society" game is a very sickening take on Rule 34 and Second Life due to the above reason.
    • In one truly depraved moment, a Society avatar is injured with her arm split open and bleeding profusely. This is a real woman in physical pain (she's visibly crying), but her player - a balding man - forces her to laugh maniacally and lick the blood off the wound for his own sadistic amusement.
  • G.I.R.L.: Kable's wife, a character in Society, is being controlled by Gorge, a topless and terribly obese home dweller.
  • Gorn: The game Slayers, since it involves televised gun battles, has highly explicit violence. This is gorn for the audience within the movie, and may be gorn for the real world audience, too (YMMV).
  • Halfway Plot Switch: Yeah, the GAME part of Gamer gets dropped early on. Never Trust a Trailer.
  • Hellhole Prison: In a similar vein to Death Race, with prisoners being used in wargames for the amusement of millions of people. Even aside from that, the movie goes out of its way to depict the prison being as horrible as possible, with an inmate going mad and ripping his own throat out eliciting nothing more than an annoyed shrug from the guards.
  • Heroic Willpower: Castle tries to manipulate Kable into killing his own daughter, but he resists, and then Simon's control allows him to attack Castle. He and Simon wrestle for control over Kable, but Kable tells Castle to imagine his knife stabbing him.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Castle, after Kable pulls a sort of Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?. Since Castle has a neural link to Kable's Restraining Bolt, all Kable has to do is get Castle to imagine being beaten to death by Kable.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Now in handy online form!
  • Just Hit Him: Subverted; when Kable slams a mook headfirst into the floor, there's a nasty crunching sound and it's pretty clear he ain't getting up from that one.
  • Knuckle Cracking: Well, neck-cracking, but Hackman flexes his neck for the same effect.
  • La Résistance: The Humanz. They seem to be the only ones in-unverse to see anything wrong with the exploitation that comes from Castle's games.
  • Made of Iron: Hackman, who's so tough that getting rammed into a concrete wall while hanging from a speeding truck only mildly inconveniences him, and later on, Kable has to break his neck twice to actually kill him.
  • Mass Hypnosis: Ken Castle reveals at the end to Kable that he plans to disseminate the mind control nanobots he designed for his games Society and Slayers that uses real people as avatars throughout the rest of the world. He injected himself with a different type that allows him to control others, demonstrating it by forcing one of his puppets-an Ax-Crazy convict-to dance in front of him.
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: Inverted: the player is in no danger, but the characters they control are real human beings, who can be manipulated (and killed) as they please.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Hackman and Rick Rape (although the latter is only an avatar; the real person is presumably nicer than the user).
  • Neck Snap: Multiple:
    • Kable finally disposes of Hackman this way. The guy is so ungodly tough however, that Kable has to do it twice before he's actually dead.
    • Hackman casually kills a member of Society in this manner.
  • New Media Are Evil: Very evil.
  • Nanomachines: How the People Puppets are made.
  • One-Word Title: Multiple:
  • People Puppets: The Fictional Video Games, Society and Slayers allow their uses to control real people through the use of Nanomachines.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted with most of the kills and Sandra, who gets her head obliterated from the neck up.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: This is inverted at the end. Castle has Kable under his control, when Kable tells Castle to think of Kable stabbing him. Castle does just that, unconsciously, and gets himself killed. It's The Game used for murder.
  • Psycho for Hire: Hackman slaughtered a dozen people on the outside just so he could be locked up and enjoy all the death he can cause in the battlefield of Slayers. He teams up with Castle for the sole purpose to get free reign to murder Kable and anyone else he feels like.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Castle.
  • Puzzle Boss: Castle. He's controlling Kable's implant, so Kable can't do anything Castle doesn't think. Kable tells Castle to imagine Kable stabbing him, which he does unconsciously, and allows Kable to kill him.
  • Rape by Proxy: The citizens of Society generally suffer from this as depraved players control them and force their avatars to engage in all manners of sexual depravity with each other. Rick Rape nearly rapes Kable's wife with consent by her perverted controller. Rick Rape would also be a victim as he was probably just a normal guy who's forced to sexually assault multiple people by his player.
  • Scary Black Man: Hackman — a black inmate and Slayers participant who's easily the largest, most dangerous, and most sadistic character in the movie.
  • Shout-Out: May be a bit of a stretch, but in the first battle sequence, in the middle of the warehouse is a mysterious-looking guy in a blue suit, holding a briefcase...
  • Single-Attempt Game: The player avatars in Slayers, the fictional video game at the center of the film, are real death-row inmates who have offered to have computer chips installed in their heads so that they can be controlled by people in a violent First-Person Shooter meets real-life Deadly Game. When they survive thirty matches, they win their freedom. Needless to say, none have made it so far.
  • Sinister Nudity: Ken Castle enters the rogue killer Hackman into the Slayers game to take down Kable. In prison, Hackman introduces himself to Kable in the locker room naked, covered in blood from a fellow inmate he Killed Offscreen.
  • Smug Snake: Castle.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Way, way, waaaaaay over on the Cynical end. People are depicted as being generally depraved, sadistic, amoral monsters with no regard for each others' lives who will willingly sacrifice actual, real people by the thousands for entertainment. Those people are almost all volunteers, but are generally doing because they have no other option, and there are no safety features in place if the avatars are hurt of pushed too far.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Kable's wife is being controlled by a sweaty, Fat Bastard and its implied many of the other women in "Society" are too. Also inverted; one scene shows a male character whom Nika is flirting with is controlled by a woman.
  • This Loser Is You: It's a film about "video games" controlled by actual human beings in depraved - either sexually OR violently - situations, and aside from the MLG player behind Kable, what other gamers we see are disgusting, morbidly obese perverts and sadistic, murderous sociopaths with no regard for human life.
    • Even Simon has his moments, and in general, he just doesn't care about the fact he's killing real humans - for him, it's a game.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer makes it seem like the entire movie was about the online game and nothing else.
  • Troll: A good chunk of the characters are straight-up trolls, and the G.I.F.T is in full, terrifying force here.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Castle has managed to get almost everyone to overlook the fact that they're playing deathmatches and Second Life with real people and is said to have exceeded Bill Gates' wealth. He did this by pulling the entire US Prison system back from the verge of bankruptcy, revitalizing the economy and everybody involved, convict or otherwise, signed up "voluntarily".
  • The Whole World Is Watching: The online shooting game Slayers (where gamers control convicts who slaughter each other for real) is shown to have become a worldwide phenomenon, with games being broadcast to all points of the globe as huge crowds cheer on their favorite Slayer, Kable.