By: Heather Seebach
In 2013, a music video called "Bad Motherfucker" by Biting Elbows went viral online. The first-person-perspective video featured everything an action fan could ask for: explosions, boobs, parkour, and gallons of blood. Lucky for the universe, director Ilya Naishuller got to turn that 5-minutes of awesomeness into a feature-length film known as Hardcore Henry.
The plot is new but the gimmick is the same: we the viewers see everything through the eyes of our faceless hero. In this tale, he is a cyborg soldier on a mission to save his wife from the clutches of a telekinetic psychopath named Akan (who may actually be albino Tommy Wiseau). Along the way, Henry has help from a mysterious man named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley).
Much like the Biting Elbows music video, Henry knows what the audience wants and delivers on it in spades. There are elaborate stunts, over-the-top gore, and a healthy dose of humor. Copley in particular chews the scenery with ease and delight. It is always fun watching that man toy with his range, and Jimmy is the ideal role for that (but to say more would spoil the fun).
The POV format is often dismissed as a gimmick. Let's face it: it IS a gimmick but when utilized properly, it can also be crazy fun. As oversaturated as the horror genre was with it, we still got fantastic entries like [REC]. Henry uses first-person-perspective to immerse the viewer in the action, not unlike most FPS video games.
If you seek meaningful dialogue and deep characterization, obviously you need look elsewhere, but for action fans who want proper action, do not sleep on this movie. It is brutally violent, occasionally clever, and full of surprises (two words: Tim Roth). In short, it is a film that knows how to not take itself seriously and just have a bloody (literally) good time.