When I was a child, I used to love sitting in the front row of a movie theater so that I could completely fill my vision with the screen. I wanted to be fully immersed into the film. I wanted to feel like I was living in that fantasy world. I loved that sense of immersion.
As I grew older, I moved back towards the center isles to save my aching neck but that enthusiasm for escapism remained. I’ve always embraced opportunities for greater immersion, like the current 3D trend. Now a new indie film, written and directed by IIya Naishuller, could possibly provide the best immersion yet. If it doesn’t make you throw up from motion sickness first.
Hardcore Henry is a movie shown entirely from the first-person perspective of its protagonist, Henry. He has been resurrected by his wife Estelle with a mechanically enhanced body. She is soon kidnapped by the film’s villain, Akan, who wants to exploit Estelle’s technology for designing weapons. Henry escapes Akan’s thugs, and is conveniently befriended by an ally who trains Henry in how to fight with his new robotic body. This sets the stage for an action packed second half where Henry goes on a rescue mission to save Estelle.
It’s a novel idea with great potential, but also predictable flaws.
Immediately there’s the issue of feeling bored. As if you’re watching someone else play a video game. There’s no denying the influence that first-person shooters had on this film. While this is a cool idea, it still looks like a video game trailer. Anyone who has ever died of boredom while waiting their turn might understand the potential frustration.
Yet, what if Hardcore Henry pulls it off? Could this film give you a video game experience? Could you directly experience the feelings of heroism? Could you feel the rush of the action, the adrenaline of lobbing a grenade, or the satisfaction of punching someone across a room?
Film festival attendees have already found out and given Hardcore Henry their praise.Multiple production companies held a bidding war for this film, including Universal and Lionsgate. STX Entertainment won out. That’s a good sign of promise. Maybe, just maybe, this movie is crazy enough to work! We’ll find out April 8th as Hardcore Henry hits theaters nationwide.