Imagine if in the not too distant future you could have the opportunity to be young again, and for the right price you could possibly never have to worry about ever growing old ever again. RPG looks into this possibility and the chances people are willing to take for this chance to indulge their youth once again. But like with anything that seems too good to be true, there is a catch, and in this game there are actually two catches. First you need to have the millions of dollars in your bank account to even play the game, and the second catch is that you have to be the lone survivor of the game to receive the award of lasting youth.
It didn’t take me much to get hooked. The idea alone had me engaged in the film, but what worried me most is how well this film would work with such a meager budget. After all, this is virtually a straight-to-DVD release. Well, my hat’s off to the filmmakers not just for crafting a fun story but also doing a great job at executing the film successfully.
The game these individuals are playing is set in a real -world video game world. In the film we follow Steve Battier (Rutger Hauer), who is looking for the opportunity to be young again. We get to watch as Steve goes through the process of choosing his player he will “inhabit” during the game. It’s somewhat like an avatar, a living body Steve will inhabit in the game world that can also die. And it is dying that these players have to worry about while playing the game, a game that begins with 10 players and only ends when one player remains.
OK, so it’s a little Hunger Games meets Tron meets Avalon, and for me I’m fine with that, because at the same time the film offers up a fresh perspective or twist on the game. You can only kill someone once you know the true identity of the player. If you kill someone without knowing their true identity, you will die as well.
What RPG does right is it doesn’t waste time throwing special effects in your face or attempting to dazzle the viewer with elaborate sets. Sure, we get a glimpse of this high-tech future, but the filmmakers were smart enough to keep the focus on the actual game and keep things confined to this reality. As we enter the game, we go in knowing only who the young Steve (Cian Barry) is, and the rest of the players are all strangers, allowing the viewer to be a participant in the film as well.
For some I understand the subject matter isn’t groundbreaking, and with only 10 players it doesn’t reach the scale that we see in another film in the survivalist classic Battle Royal, but this still holds up as an entertaining entry for this unique genre. While I wish more time could have been spent with the characters manipulating one another and keeping with a more psychological approach, the film works more as a slasher where everyone has the opportunity to be not just the victim but the killer as well.
I had fun with this one. RPG is one of the rare releases that I watched and felt it was better than some bigger-budgets that get a wide theatrical release. It’s a fun little ride that left me wondering how well I would fare if thrown into this real game scenario. Of course you play the game to win, but when winning means cold-blooded murder, just what do you become if you do turn out to be the lone survivor?