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In the near future, convict teams take part in blood-spattered online gaming environments, avatars gawped at and controlled by pay-per-view weirdos. The star player is Gerard Butler’s Kable, who wants to put the mark of Kane on the game’s billionaire creator. Dismal techno-porn tweaking of Death Race from the guys behind the Crank movies. Dexter’s Michael C. Hall seems to be treating the whole thing as a bad joke. Logan Lerman wears a Crank T-shirt. It’s all so brutish and lairy, not to mention so deeply cynical, that not only does it make you nostalgic for the muffled satire of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Running Man, it kind of makes you fear for the sanity of film business focus groups. It doesn’t help that writer-directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor’s idea of a good time is lots of noise behind flashy jazzed-up visuals jerked around at seizure pitch. Inevitable, I guess. After all, their film’s called Gamer. My dvd player might not come with a joystick but, mercifully, it has a scan button. Life’s too short for movies as gamey as Gamer.

Certificate: 18
Duration: 95min