Sometimes a film isn’t just bad as a piece of entertainment, it’s bad and repellent in it’s message as well. Beta Test, which will be getting a 15 screen release in July ahead of it’s VOD release is one of them.
It begins with Kincaid (Linden Ashby) the CEO of Sentinel Games and the very obvious villain giving an extended interview in which he goes on at length about the need to repeal the second amendment and disarm America. As he’s doing this his goons are implanting a remote control device in the neck of former employee Creed (Manu Bennett) and kidnapping his wife. Shortly after, champion gamer Max (Larenz Tate) begins the beta test of a new game from Sentinel. It doesn’t take him long to realize what he does in the game is happening in real life, if fact he is remote controlling Creed. He needs to connect with Creed to find out what is going on and stop the conspiracy before it’s to late.
Now, films about power mad CEOs and companies with dreams of world domination are nothing new, James Bond alone has had to deal with dozens of them, it’s where this one goes with it’s plot that gets disagreeable. Creed plans to use Max and Creed to create enough gun related mayhem to have the government outlaw gun ownership. Now, given even after any number of mass killings enhanced background checks can’t get passed and you can be on the terrorist watch list and legally buy a gun that would seem simply far fetched. But one of the incidents that is set up is a school shooting. Yes, they go there. They run with the lunatics that claim massacres like Sandy Hook are inside jobs designed to create support for a government gun grab, or even outright hoaxes. Now thanks to the first amendment they can make a film pandering to the sickos that harass the victim’s relatives in order to get the “truth”, and thanks to it as well, I can say it’s disgusting.
Now, even if it had steered clear of that kind of subject matter Beta Test still wouldn’t be a very good film. It’s ambitions far outstrip it’s budget and it shows. The in game footage is far from cutting edge, it looks like something from ten years ago, which really hurts it’s credibility. And the action scenes just don’t cut it for a film that calls itself a cross between Die Hard and Gamer. Even the eight minute long, shot in one continuous take fight scene the publicity makes so much of is nothing special. Creed makes his way up an office building’s stairs while security guards attack him one at a time with bare fists, not even a nightstick comes into play, he punches them in the face a couple of time and they fall down. It’s tedious, not exciting. Now with the right choreography it could have been stunning, but that was out of their budget.
The basic idea behind Beta Test could have made an interesting film, but it fails on just about every level.