RPG (aka Real Playing Game) Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
DVD released by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Directed by Tino Navarro and David Rebordão
Written by Tino Navarro
2013, 103 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on 8th September 2014
Rutger Hauer as Steve Battier
Chris Tashima as Mr. Chan
Cian Barry as Young Steve Battier
Alix Wilton Regan as Young Alice
Nik Xhelilaj as Young Boris
With headline talent like Rutger Hauer gracing the key art for RPG, expectations can be set around the mid-point for what's about to unfold. While the veteran actor has lent his skills to some decent productions, his output tends be more miss than hit.
RPG pulls the classic bait and switch of putting its biggest name front and centre on the DVD cover, while only utilizing the star for a fraction of its running time. In this case, the bulk of the film is bookended by a CGI-laden future scenario where a terminally ill multi-millionaire Steve Battier is offered the chance to live as a younger man competing in a Hunger Games-style battle for survival. The company (RPG) running the Real Playing Game (RPG) has the technology to transfer the minds of the older generation into the bodies of those much younger. This is RPG, a movie about RPG running an RPG.
Despite the millions that the contestants pay to experience life in a younger body, they must, for some reason, battle to the death with the other customers. Only one out of 10 will survive and be left to purchase the full upgrade to wind back the clock permanently. Talk about the worst deal ever.
In this game, RPG has the choice of creating the arena in any place or time and chooses 2013 Portugal, which means the floating cars and hyper-stylized offices of the company are gone in favour of a bit of wasteland and a derelict building. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem, but they also choose to transfer Steve Battier and the others contestants' consciousness into the younger bodies of really, really crap actors. And that's where it all goes wrong; what starts as a fairly competent sci-fi B-movie descends into a poor-man's Battle Royale with sub-porn level acting.
I'm being harsh of course, these are non-English actors for the most part and they're doing their job in a language that's not their mother tongue. It may not have been so bad if the script helped them out some. As an audience we're expected to believe that these people, given the possibility of living only another 10 hours, turn their thoughts more towards boning each other than surviving and getting another 50 years of life out of the deal. There's no attempt to bring any identity to any of the characters, save for the guessing game of who they might be from the future – and as their future selves are never introduced, there's really no reason to care.
So for around 80 minutes we get characters we're not invested in, playing a game we don't care about, to an eventuality that's too obvious (Rutger Hauer's crap actor alter-ego wins, d'uh). The final bookend, almost predictably drops in a twist that doesn't work particularly well at a point when all you want to see is the credits rolling.
Dumb, uninteresting and formulaic, RPG is one game you should not be interested in playing.