Those familiar with Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor's previous collaborations, the frenetic Crank and its equally cartoonlike sequel Crank 2: High Voltage, will find little to surprise them during the first half of their latest shoot-'em-up, set in a future America where millions engage in a live-action version of Second Life and the top-rated tv show features convicted criminals fighting to the death in the hope of gaining their freedom. (The latter may remind some of the 1987 adaptation of Stephen King's pseudonymous The Running Man, but it's closer in treatment to an obscurity from that same year, Deathrow Gameshow.)
It's at the mid-point, however, that the script edges towards a rather more interesting meditation upon the nature of identity in a world where nanotechnology can provide you with a physical avatar, under your direct mental control. That it only strays a short distance in that direction is most likely rooted in a desire not to alienate the film's target audience, although the cliched depiction of one player as a semi-naked couch potato with sexuality issues won't endear it to some. In all, a mildly interesting misfire.