The Gamechangers

Recent news that the BBC were producing a dramatization of the battle between Rockstar Games, creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, and infamous lawyer Jack Thompson had many worried, as TV and film have never exactly understood the video game industry. Just take a look at the recent episode of Law and Order that attempted to cover the GamerGate controversy and ended up doing a lot more damage to the reputation of the community. Rockstar themselves are suing the BBC over the depiction of the company and they slammed the film on twitter, asking "Was Basil Brush busy?" and branding it "made up bollocks" which actually just provided further evidence of the company's volatile reputation, as depicted in the Gamechangers.

Daniel Radcliffe was the surprise highlight of the film, portraying Sam Houser, president and co-founder of Rockstar. At first, he seemed worryingly awkward in the role, sounding unaccustomed to the industry jargon. The back and forth between brother Dan Houser and developer Jamie was also poorly written and often fell back onto laddish language that felt largely out of place. However, as the film progressed, Sam's spiral into meltdown worked much better for Radcliffe and he looked more at home depicting a character pushed to the edge and fearful of the collapse of his company.

Bill Paxton as the lawyer Jack Thompson was well cast, a passionate and often over intense character intent on placing the blame on Rockstar for Grand Theft Auto's debated influence on young adults. While Thompson lacked the character arc that Houser had, he was well written and at times you felt sympathetic for him. The personal scenes between Thompson and his family were touching but were sadly spoiled by the poor music, the classic emotional piano/guitar sound that should be confined to only the very worst rom-coms. 

While Radcliffe and Paxton both impressed and were very watchable, the supporting cast was flawed, with many characters sounding as if they were literally reading off the script as they spoke. Many of the relationships in the film also felt forced and had no resolution. However, there were a number of memorable scenes, particularly the early killing spree, with punchy, unnerving violence and a camera angle that evoked the player's perspective in the Grand Theft Auto games, a very nice touch. The film definitely improved as it went on, with the tension built up well as both Houser and Thompson approached their judgement day. 

The Gamechangers was a very mixed bag but it ultimately developed from awkward and cagey into a tense and fast-paced dramatization of Rockstar's meltdown and Thompson's ceaseless pursuit of "justice." The film was also far from black and white in its message, carefully treading the line between "violence in games is wrong" and "violence in games is fine."