A digitally rendered Kevin Spacey in ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’
Watching a digitally rendered Kevin Spacey as Jonathan Irons, the chief executive of the fictional military corporation Atlas Corporation in ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare”, you feel a weird blurring of the boundary between what is real real and unreal real. He looks somewhat waxy but it is Kevin Spacey after all and he can do even waxy so well.
This is a motion-captured performance like what Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson did with their ‘Tintin’. It feels so real that it is unreal. With his role as Irons, Spacey is charting a wholly new territory where acting acquires a totally different definition. As he tells Stuart Dregde of The Guardian, “It’s like ‘do this scene, stand up on those boxes there, on an empty sound stage, put your hand on this pole like you’re leaning up on the top of something, walk down these boxes, sit in that chair and say the rest of your dialogue, then the scene will be over’.”
“But when you look over at the monitor where they’ve rendered that world, you’re standing in a helicopter and your hand is on its roof. And then you get into a jeep and it drives away. And you think ‘What the fuck! I’m so far away right now from the Old Vic and a theatre audience …’”
There is a line in the game where Spacey as Irons says, “Democracy? Democracy. Democracy is not what these people need. Hell, its not even what they want.” He is, of course referring to a world in 2054 which appears even more out of control than it seems now. From what I can make out Irons and his Atlas go about restoring order using their own private mercenary army. The operating philosophy of Irons is that “Democracy is not what these people need. Hell its not even what they want.” It is a fusion of the real and the fictional in the sense that it is America that is trying to enforce order but the world it is enforcing order to is fictional yet plausibly real. It is a pessimistic world where men like Irons thrive on the strength of their military-corporate might.
As one hears him talk about how democracy is not possible the way America envisions one begins to wonder how that vision could suddenly spill out of ‘Call of Duty’ and become real. In parts of the world it is already ‘Call of Duty’ in action. Sometimes I wonder whether the military-industrial complex uses games like these to prime minds around the world about the inevitability of frequent U.S. military intervention that is increasingly stripped of fundamental human values. In a sense, this is already a US policy template. It is becoming harder to decide what came first ‘Call of Duty” or US policy.
I have never played this game but watching Spacey lay it out I am very tempted to. The only problem is that the navigation and operation are so complicated for me that I tend to give up in the first few seconds. It requires considerable real skills to be able to navigate this unreal world.
I am sure with this “role” Spacey will expand his oeuvre as an actor not to mention bank balance.