07th Sep2014

‘RPG’ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Rutger Hauer, Cian Barry, Alix Wilton Regan, Nik Xhelilaj, Pedro Granger | Written by Tino Navarro, Artur Ribeiro | Directed by Tino Navarro, David Rebordão


If there was a way to regain their youth what would the old do to claim that prize? RPG aka Real Playing Game looks to answer that in a science fiction style, meaning killing each other in a virtual reality style environment.  Is murder worth the extra years on the Earth? For the people who could afford something like that the answer would probably be yes.

Steven Battier (Hauer) is old and terminally ill but also a multi-millionaire.  Accepting an offer from a company RPG he takes part in a group venture which promises to give him the chance to be young again.  For 10 hours the elderly group are transferred into the bodies of younger and healthier bodies and told they must kill each to claim the prize.  If they refuse to kill then a random person will automatically die.  With a twist that the only way to confirm the death of each victim is to guess who their real personas are, the payment for getting it wrong is also death.

With a story that feels like a OAP version of Battle Royale the actual concept of RPG is interesting, with an ending that is surprisingly well thought out, it’s just a shame that the rest of the film doesn’t hold up to the quality of the idea.  The more interesting characters are in fact the computer generated bios of the elderly and selfish millionaires who have paid to get into the game, and they just float on-screen with text explaining who they are.  The younger versions come across as bland and not able to live up to the expectations of who they are actually meant to be.  These people should act older than their years, instead it’s hard to connect to them or even care if they live or die.  I’m sure an argument would be that these people aren’t meant to be liked, but we have to care about what we see on the screen at least to get entertainment from their actions.

The real problem with RPG is that the audience should be a part of the game, we should be wondering who these people could be.  We don’t really have the time to know more about the older personas other than that there is an actor, a geek, a lesbian and a few others.  The younger versions spend most of the movie seemingly half-heartedly trying to find out just who the other people are.  It would be nice if more focus could have been put into a more intelligent approach to revealing the truth before rushing into the kill.  In the films defence though, as it progresses and the number of players decreases the tension does start to build up and gets more entertaining.  This could be down to the fact that the less annoying members of the group tend to die off early.  The end does go a long way to arguably saving the movie, but you can’t rely on the end just to feel satisfied with the time taken to actually get to the conclusion.

Fans of films like the aforementioned Battle Royale may have their interest poked at with RPG but I’m not sure that they will be satisfied with what they find.  I’m sure some may be more interested than I was, especially with the pay off at the end, it’s just a shame that the rest doesn’t live up to expectations.  A good idea that just didn’t hit the mark for me, RPG struggles to reach the potential it seems to have.

*** 3/5

RPG is available on DVD and Blu-ray from September 8th.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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