HARDCORE HENRY: CINEMA HAS NEVER LOOKED LIKE THIS
Every so often a movie comes along that breaks new ground for originality. Jurassic Park brought CGI to T-Rex-sized dimensions. Avatar was a blue-clad breakthrough for 3D. Now Hardcore Henry may have given us the rip-roaring action adventure for the gamer generation.
The tagline reads: “First they made him dangerous, then they made him mad”. Except the ‘him’ is actually you. Kind of. Billed as the first-ever action movie filmed entirely from the hero’s first-person viewpoint, Hardcore Henry is taking cinema goers on an adrenaline-fuelled rush.
Under its original title Hardcore, the movie earned rave reviews at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival and it promises a celluloid event like no other. It might look like a video game but the controllers are in the hands of the producers. We’re just strapped in for the ride.
The story is seen through the eyes of the main character Henry, brought back to life but having lost his memory, and follows his crazed quest to discover his identity and save his wife from the warlord Akan played by Russian actor Danila Kozlovsky. Hardcore Henry also stars Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett and Tim Roth and looks like marking a major milestone in this type of movie-making.
Long since deemed the daddy of the first-person shoot ‘em up, the Doom computer game was given the Hollywood treatment in 2005 but the sci-fi movie starring Karl Urban and Dwayne ’The Rock’ Johnson proved a box-office bomb. In a nod to its inspiration, however, the film did give us a glimpse from the protagonist’s viewpoint.
The Blair Witch Project was a smash hit despite being produced on a shoe-string budget. The 1999 documentary-style horror, shot like a home movie, was accompanied with some genius marketing ploys. Rumours that the movie used real footage of three student filmmakers who disappeared in the woods near Burkittsville, Maryland, had audiences terrified and intrigued in equal measure. The first-person view, shaky camera work, and close-ups on faces, made The Blair Witch Project something of a cinematic breakthrough due to its critical acclaim.
It seems we’ve always been seduced by that insider view. Science-fiction has often teased us with such things; Predator’s heat-seeking vision or Arnie’s Terminator computer interface. In Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, audiences were given a thrilling peek into Darth Vader’s iconic mask.
Cloverfield and Being John Malkovich are others to embrace elements of first-person sight but Hardcore Henry is taking things to a new and electrifying level. It’s got all the ingredients of an explosive adventure. Guns? Check. Grenades? Check. Flame-throwers? Check. Road chase? Check. But it’s also offering a uniquely immersive cinematic experience. If you’ve ever wanted to star in an action film, this could be as close as you get.