First-Person Shooter: A New Genre of Film?
Take one of the most profitable game genres and project it across the silver screen. What do you get? Hardcore Henry. Let’s break this down in this Hardcore Henry movie review.
In our current point in time, vicarious observation dominates actual playing of the most profitable games. It was inevitable for a first-person movie to come out. The recent trend in gaming has been a sweeping transition from pure gameplay to a more narrative driven experience. It seems that Hardcore Henry could be the start of the opposite trend for filmmaking. Is this first-person shooter style of film backward compatible? Let’s see.
Hardcore Henry Movie Review — Off The Bat
Even before the first frame of footage is projected on the screen, you know you’re in for a bloody, visceral time. Never before has a film’s opening credits scene so accurately foreshadowed its proceeding content. Guns, knives, bats, bottles, fists all softly illuminated through the darkness in red. They strike oh so methodically, oh so poetically, and oh so close up in slow motion. If there is one element of Hardcore Henry that cannot be missed, even with closed eyes, it would be the gruesome combat. It is clear how diligently the creators ensured you witnessed every moment and detail of the brutality.[Tweet “it is impossible to reject the deceptive sensation of viewing the film’s events in first-person.”]
Hectic is one word to describe the pace. Consider for a moment that approximately 99% of Hardcore Henry is shot with a fish-eye GoPro lens attached to a stuntman’s head. The darting action scenes are bound to jar the audience. Some may feel nausea. Yet, this disorienting affect both suits the stylized content as well as renders the impact of slow motion even more powerful.
Once the viewer adapts to the initial jarring effect, the first-person method shines. After a short period of time, it is impossible to reject the deceptive sensation of viewing the film’s events in first-person. With the camera in the point of view of the protagonist and the sound amplifying around the audience, the viewer has no choice but to succumb. And it is thrilling. You may even find yourself feeling flickers of stimulus from other senses. The point of the film is to convince the viewer they are the protagonist, or at the very least, watching through his eyes. It is difficult not to feel pity for the pulverized antagonists and sore around your own body.
Here comes the bionic man with a human mind and an augmented heart. Is there any heart at all? Yes, but more to pump the story along than hydrate any waterworks; like the protagonist, the film’s heart is more machine than man. But that’s not such a bad thing. Viewers should predispose themselves to perceive the film in its appropriate context: purely light, raunchy, and naked fun.
Hardcore Henry is all mouth and no tears which ultimately keeps its pulse extreme yet steady. Like most first-person shooter games, the protagonist does not have a voice as to not impose one on the user. In this case, the charm is assumed by the film’s escort: Jimmy, played by Sharlto Copley. This often present tour guide/joke man does not relent, and you love his character for it.
Jimmy’s particular personality bleeds into the rest of the film’s humor. I refrain from disclosing any specific examples as to not spoil these jaw-dropping, gut busting, nut p___, I’ll leave it there. Just ensure to keep your head on straight and maybe wear a helmet. And a cup.
Adrenaline fueled and action packed at its core; what else could be expected?
Meaningful? No. Visceral? Yes. And that is clearly the goal of the film. The film was initially implanted with a lick of sentimentality, which then quickly dissolves into juvenile, vulgar charisma. However, this is all but a bad thing. In fact, this may be the film’s strong suit.
Presuming that the viewer enters the theater with the mind that they must disarm theirs to endure or, ideally, enjoy Hardcore Henry, they will undoubtedly have a blast. There is no Oscar to be won, nor are there tears to be shed; Hardcore Henry is not meant to triumph, it is meant to thrill. To replace the glasses from your eyes and intellectual from your mind with a dual-shock controller and a cheesy-fingered, Mountain Dew energized kid at the helm. Hardcore Henry may be rated R for adults though it is sure as hell not appropriate for them.
To like Hardcore Henry, the viewer must peel back their maturity to reveal their inner child. Fidgeting at the hilt of their seat, marveling up at the screen, rather than a jaded adult looking down on it. For those who choose to sit in the booster seat, have a blast. For those who cannot sacrifice their adult refinement for their inner kid, go read a book. Hardcore Henry is a bloody good time.
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