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In his latest violent actioner, Gerard Butler will remind viewers of Russell Crowe. During the course of this coarse techno-thriller, I couldn’t help wondering if the brooding Butler would ever become an acquired taste like Crowe and finally leapfrog or fight his way out of the 300/Gladiator exercises to awards-caliber fare (think A Beautiful Mind or The Insider). I fear he might be stuck in witless games like this one for the long haul, and that’s probably enough to make him chuck a phone at somebody.

Which is too bad, because I’m sure Gamer seemed like a fun lark during the initial pitch.

With writing/directing team Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (the pranksters behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage), there should have been the promise of visual mayhem (in that shooter point of view kind of way) and a wild sense of abandon that proved to be quite funny in the Crank movies (funny enough to actually make Jason Statham even see the humor in his own jacked-up persona). Too bad none of that spirited mania made its way into this inert game.

If I were Butler, I definitely would take a call from Neveldine and Taylor. These two need to approach him in person, so that he can guarantee that he’s going to be working with the real deal and not a pair of videogame avatars eager to push his flesh around for their own amusement. Grade: D