You wake up in a vat of liquid. Your perspective is shot to hell. You have absolutely no idea what’s going on…yes, this is the key opening within the first two minutes of the groundbreaking new action film Hardcore Henry, but this is also where you, the moviegoer, begin at the start of the film that is in theaters now. Revolutionizing the action movie genre, Hardcore Henry takes place entirely in the first person perspective: not only is it shot in first person, but just like the title protagonist, you learn only what Henry does as the story progresses.
To celebrate the opening of this groundbreaking film, the makers of Hardcore Henry partnered with Fathom Events for a once in a lifetime event on April 7 with Hardcore Henry: The Ultimate Fan Experience. As a fan-funded endeavor that was financed through IndieGoGo, the event rewarded supporters not only with a screening of the film a day before its release, but also featured a Q&A with writer and director Ilya Naishuller as well as star Sharlto Copley with questions supplied by the fans via Twitter and Facebook. Attendees also received a copy of an exclusive comic book prequel to the film.
The event was a highly rewarding experience, with the Q&A providing a good deal of insight into the making of Hardcore Henry, and showcasing the passion and genuine love that went into the creation of this revolutionary theater experience. The comic book gift, Hardcore Akan, provides some highly illuminating backstory on the villain off the movie, and rounded out the experience nicely by filling in a rather large hole that, while did not detract from the film’s appeal, did leave unanswered questions for the routine audience.
Hardcore Henry essentially turns the viewer into the protagonist: Henry, a man brought back from the dead as a cyborg with technology that’s painted a giant target on his back. With no memory of his life, and a loving spouse that’s been abducted by Akan, the warlord that wants him dead, Henry must survive the day with only the help of Jimmy (played by Copley), a British man with seemingly as many personalities as he has lives.
Overall, the movie is very good: the writing is brilliant, and features a story that turns certain action film tropes upside down in an exciting and satisfying way. The unique shooting style also provides a lot of thrilling moments otherwise inaccessible in the typical action movie—but in the same vein, the shooting style does make Hardcore Henry difficult to watch for those who may suffer from motion sickness, as I do, and many of the falling down or running sequences are just plain headache inducing. The movie also features a level of realistic violence only previously seen in slasher flicks or horror movies, yet manages to present the worst of it with a level of extreme camp and hyperbole that pulls the viewer out of the experience just enough to remind you that it’s all just a movie.
Despite the problems with the fact that the film was shot with a string of twelve to thirteen GoPro cameras, Hardcore Henry is still an amazing movie experience. As, essentially, a live action first person shooter video game, it absolutely lives up to its hype, and as a film may simply be ahead of its time. With the right developments in camera technology to make the angles even more immersive, Hardcore Henry could very well be the future of the high powered action film.