Life is a video game in Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore Henry, a first-person action movie about a cyborg being chased through Russia by minions while trying to rescue his wife (Haley Bennett) from a supervillain with telekinetic powers. Watching Hardcore Henry, which was almost shot entirely on a GoPro, is like watching someone else play a first person shooter. Some of the action, like a chase down a hallway or a bridge, lends itself to a POV approach, and it would be interesting if action films selectively incorporated this technique. In Hardcore Henry, however, the effect is frenetic and hyperkinetic, nauseating and mind-numbingly disorienting. It doesn’t help that there’s a razor thin plot, making Hardcore Henry more of an “experience” than a movie, one in which it’s hard to become emotionally invested. There’s a bit of fun with a supporting character (Sharlto Copley), and the third act twist is compelling—but it’s too little too late then. This is not to say that Naishuller’s efforts are for nought; he, the large crew, and the special effects team have mounted an impressive production that took a lot of technical skill to achieve.
In English & Russian.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White