hardcore henry 2015

Hardcore Henry [2016] is an action film presented entirely from the main protagonist’s point-of-view. Thanks to additional funding from a successful Indiegogo campaign first-time writer/director Ilya Naishuller was able to bring together the talent of Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, and some impressive stuntmen in order to release a one-of-a-kind motion picture like none that have come before it.

Choose Your Player. What immediately comes to mind is the feel of a first-person video game. The story, the way other characters interact with the protagonist, everything is constructed in a way that allows whatever excuse is necessary to make you the audience member take the place of the hero and allow you to go from scene to scene and have whatever crazy, badass awesomeness occur which mainly makes up whatever excuse there is for a plot. That might sound harsh, but let’s be real here, not a single ticket purchaser is sitting in the cinema for this film for the plot. Hardcore Henry is advertised as being the first of its kind, and it’s all about action baby. Hardcore is in the title for crying out loud! This isn’t so much about telling a story as it is about delivering an experience. This production is an experience, it’s unique and impressive on several different levels, but it’s far from flawless and it certainly doesn’t live up to the hype.

FIGHT! The selling point of the film is that it takes place entirely POV, which is to say the camera is essentially through the eyes of the main character. Every step, jump, punch, fall, etc. is seen and experienced as if we were doing it ourselves. It’s a fun gimmick, one that’s been used time and time again in films and music videos, but never for the duration of an entire feature. It’s difficult to adjust to at first, but somehow through all the action and mayhem everything is comprehensible and there’s nothing to complain about to the degree that films like Cloverfield [2008] received due to their handheld camera execution. The stuntmen involved are really to be commended, especially considering nothing more than a few stitches occurred during the whole production, as well as the direction of the filmmakers who choreographed and shot each scene so that no events were difficult to comprehend. The action scenes are pretty neat, at times a moment or two being particularly batshit awesome, but over time everything kind of settles as the audience becomes dull to the whole thing.

Game Over. There’s a good bit of humor throughout, the performances are cartoonish and silly at times, and the production as a whole is fun and something worth noticing. It’s hard to say if this is a good film or an impressive test of sorts, but it’s an experience that’s entertaining and certainly not something to be dismissed. It’s not the next step in filmmaking, but it’s a different idea brought to fruition better than most would I’m sure, and if you don’t feel like gaming maybe set the controller aside for an hour and a half and let this play itself.

A unique and fun idea that is executed well enough but can’t quite keep up the thrills and excitement.