movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

QUIRKS: Takes place in 2034. New technology allows videogame players to control actual humans, via cerebral nanotechnology implants. The first such game is Society(tm), which is somewhat like Second Life — except real. The second game is Slayers(tm), where death row inmates frag each other first person shooter style.

And yes… ping time is a plot point (!!). Frickin’ LPBs!

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a man named Kable.
At killing he proved to be quite able.
Played by a kid
who controlled what he did–
He eventually brought his own talent to the table.

HAIKU REVIEW: Let’s try to avoid
nanotechnology that
sucks our souls away.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Lack of software quality control leads to complications. Firmware takes on a new meaning! (Hmm…. This one was tough.)

PEOPLE: Written & Directed by the guys who wrote & directed Crank 1 and Crank 2: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor.

Starring Gerard Butler (300) as the hero/victim, and Michael C. Hall (gay David Fisher from Six Feet Under, or Dexter from Dexter as most people know him today) as the creator of the games played in the movie. Kyra Sedgwick (who I haven’t seen in much, but was the voice of Lois Lane in Justice League:The New Frontier) as the ratings-hungry reporter — looking impressively good for a 45-year-old. Logan Lerman (Jim Carrey’s son in The Number 23, also in What Women Want and The Patriot) as the hotshot best gamer in the world. Terry Crews (Terminator Salvation, Puff Puff Pass, and the president in Idiocracy) as a sick killer.

Minor roles played by Amber Valletta (as the main character’s wife in the movie), Alison Lohman (Drag Me To Hell, Beowulf, Big Fish), a hard-to-recognize Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli in Heroes) as Rick Rape (what a great username…it’s as bad as it sounds)…. And Ludacris. Which I think is ludicrous.

We also have a brief scene with Keith David (Goliath from Gargoyles!), as well as John Leguizamo (who I didn’t even notice), and Aaron Yoo (who I recognized from the Friday The 13th reboot, and was also in Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, The Wackness).

VISUALS: The visual style was quite awesome (9/10). I learned from Crank 1 & Crank 2 that these guys know how to create creative visuals. They also often show scenes in brief glimpses or from real angles, conveying the sense of urgency that the characters experience. And the depiction of futuristic gaming technology is any videogame geek’s best wet dream. And of course there’s lots of explody action, and intense scenes of people being controlled by other people. If you are controlling someone else’s body, you will make them do things they would never do themselves.

Great movie to watch in HD.

SOUNDTRACK: Marilyn Manson‘s “Sweet Dreams” Eurhythmics cover used twice??? Nice! And incredibly appropriate to the subject matter! In a game where humans control other humans, some of them like to abuse you, and some of them like to be abused. That’s Society(tm) for you.

However, the biggest soundtrack flaw was not using Atari Teenage Riot‘s Delete Yourself! You Got No Chance To Win! That’s the only song that I know in existence that is as appropriate to this movie than Marilyn Manson‘s “Sweet Dreams” Eurhytmics cover.

I didn’t notice “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”. That’s pretty appropriate too.

MORALS: The idea of having implants and then being paid to be controlled by someone is is kind of creepy. In the movie, the establishment tended to think of these people as being much like prostitutes, or more accurately, porn stars. People pay to control, and get paid to be controlled.

This also says something about conspiracy theories, as the conspiracy theorists are basically the good guys in this game. The ones who don’t want the implants everyone else is getting. The ones who don’t want to install software into their body without reviewing the source code. They are more or less treated like terrorists in the movie.

POLITICS: The whole movie really hinged on a lot of issues relating to the Technology War, technical privacy, corporate lust for profit at any cost [including human life]. Software hacking, biological hacking, nano-technology, people with IP addresses for their bodies… What happens when people willingly accept technology without thinking about the privacy issues? It’s already happening today with cell phones, RFID tags, and corporations and governments trying to force ISPs to monitor our online activities.

This is an action movie, but the political backdrop served to make it more interesting.

BAD STUFF: Critic reception has been primarily negative — I strongly disagree with those negative critics, and the silly reasons they’ve used. RVA Magazine said that this film “tries to criticize the commercialization of violence, even though it itself is commercialized violence”. Oh please. Now you’re going to try to say the movie is hypocritical, and that means it’s not good? That’s a sad, sad reason to dislike a film. 29% on Rotten Tomatoes? What’s wrong with you people?

Admittedly, the ending employs a bit of deus ex machina. But in the end, this is an action movie, which means its more about the voyage than the destination. I prefer a more definable ending that’s ever-so-slightly hackneyed over the less definable ending of the movie Avalon.

This movie is certainly over-the-top. But that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. That’s the type of movies these guys make.

CONCLUSION: Better than Crank 2, and almost as good as Crank 1 — which is my favorite action movie ever. This was an amazing visual fragfest set to the backdrop of futuristic techno-political-corporate politics. A video game where you control actual people? And they kill each other? This movie is a mix of so many awesome things at once. Over the top, just like Crank 1. This movie did not disappoint, and we both absolutely loved it. It would probably be our favorite action movie of the year, except that we watched Crank this year and that claims the title :)

Clint: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8+/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 5/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.5/5 stars, IMDB: 5.8/10.

Yes, we definitely liked this more than average. For counterpoint, here’s the hater’s review.

RECOMMENDATION: Action-lovers, videogame-lovers, techno-politics lovers … This is for you! If you liked Crank 1 and Crank 2, you’re probably going to like this!

SIMILAR MOVIES: The “movie math” equation that I came up with is: The Running Man + Avalon (2001) + Being John Malkovich = Gamer.
Arguably, you could add “+ Crank” to that equation, but that would be describing the visual style and frenetic feel more than the premise of the movie.

It has elements of the movie Avalon, but it ends up being a level deeper: Instead of a virtual reality game that everyone loves, the game itself takes place in reality. If you saw Avalon, you might remember the quest to get to “Class Real”. Well, here it is. Except if you die in the game, you don’t die in real life. The person you play dies, and you get a new person to play.

MOVIE QUOTE: Upgrade Guard: Who aims?
Kable: What?
Upgrade Guard: Who aims? The player or the slayer?
Kable: I’m the hand. Someone, somewhere else is the eye.

… I want pistachio butter.

Mood: awake
Music: Pixies – Crackity Jones