Movie Review – Beta Test

In the game world.
In the game world. Those sparkling HD graphics?

Max (Larenz Tate) is a pro gamer. After the awards and accolades, Max finds himself as the lead beta tester for Seattle based gaming juggernaut Sentinel. Max’s latest assignment is an unnamed first-person simulation set in the present day. Guided by “Tech Support” over speakerphone, Max is under the assumption that he’s checking the game for inconsistencies, as a beta tester would. Max’s first mission is to sneak into a bank that is being robbed and retrieve the contents of a specific safe deposit box. After killing the robbers and presumably saving the day, Max is satisfied with his efforts and the game is seemingly a success. Unknowingly, Max is not playing a game. He suddenly learns that robbery he thwarted happened in real life. The character Max has been controlling is former Sentinel executive Orson Creed (Manu Bennett). Creed was kidnapped by Sentinel and was implanted with a chip that is synchronized with Max’s game controller. Innocents will die if Max keeps playing, but bigger powers are in play that  could have global ramifications. Also, there’s the matter of Orson Creed who is enslaved by the game he help create.

On paper, Beta Test tries to tackle some topical issues such as government conspiracy, the rise in video games and privacy. However, the film is so thoroughly ridiculous that you forget why you’re watching. I’m not sure when the film is set, but judging by the graphics of the game I’d guess the film was set around 2004/2005. One of the many unintentionally funny moments of the film is when Max says that the game “looks great” when my mobile phone has better resolution. The only moment of note in this passable high school film class final exam is the climactic fight sequence. The uncut eight minute long take is the longest recorded fight sequence in history. The 2003 Park Chan Wook classic Oldboy was the previous holder. I guess the only good in watching Beta Test is for the potential knowledge of a future Jeopardy question.

Verdict: D

Rated: R @ 98 mins

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