Hardcore Henry: The Future of Action Cinema?

Hardcore Henry, the first person adventure coming out on April 8th. Image credit to STX Entertainment.
Hardcore Henry, the first person adventure coming out on April 8th. Image credit to STX Entertainment.

It is no secret that movies can be shot in first person for the entirety of the film, and it has been done before. “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) was one of them, as well as bits and pieces of the “Paranormal Activity (2007-2015) horror movies which only give one the view from handheld and security cameras places around different homes. Hardcore Henry is a film releasing on April 8th, 2016 and promises to be an action-packed thriller adventure shot entirely from the first person viewpoint.

The viewer sees through the eyes of Henry, a man brought back from the brink of death as a cybernetic super soldier who has no memory of his past. He works to save his wife from a powerful warlord who plans to bioengineer an army of cybernetic super soldiers like him. All of this happens in the city of Moscow as Henry tries not to get killed as he discovers more about his identity. The movie was shot almost entirely with a GoPro Hero 3 camera using a special rig that was worn like a mask.

Hardcore Henry takes a new look at the action genre, which is something director Ilya Naishuller has been doing with films for a while now. Naishuller directed the short videos “The Stampede” and “Bad Motherfucker” that also take place in first-person perspective and have been given a lot of positive feedback online. This will be Naishuller’s first big feature-length movie produced nationwide by STX Entertainment.

So what does this movie pose to the world of cinema? The idea of having a first person movie is not an uncommon one, but the idea of seeing it through the eyes of a mute protagonist is something one doesn’t normally find in cinema.

It’s more often seen in video games, which Naishuller admits he received some inspiration from in creating the movie in an interview with The Verge media website. However, he insists it was meant for cinema with the movie-goer in mind and not the gamer. He does not plan to pursue any more films like this in the future in terms of cinema. If a gamer does happen to see the movie, Naishuller says the cinema goer will “get an extra kick out of that.”

With the buzz that the movie has been making, it is not a far fetched idea that “Hardcore Henry” will have some effect on the action genre as the film takes its place among the spring line-up. The idea of experiencing an adventure through one’s own eyes is always exciting, and with action movies being all about excitement, this seems like a step in a new direction for them to take.

We might have more mute heroes approaching the action and thriller genres, with cameras set up to see everything through the first person shot. Though video games seem to have already pocketed this, it is not out of the way to suggest that people having control over their actions in the film and possibly suffering consequences for it is a good idea.

Video games are already starting to take their place as inspiration in the cinema realm as more movies are being made for a demanding audience, with “Ratchet and Clank” coming out April 29th, a movie based off the popular Playstation game series that tells the tale of the two main characters as they embark on their adventure.

With Hollywood scrounging for good ideas that will make money, such as popular books, and now popular games, one might even expect “Halo: The Movie” to be something they see as a summer blockbuster someday, especially considering games like “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001) and “Super Mario Bros.” (1993) have already been made into films.

But maybe one could expect to see more “Assassin’s Creed,” “Call of Duty,” “Bioshock” or “Gears of War” in theaters as a first-person view some day.

It does not seem like interactive movies are something that people can expect as a result from this, but more adventurous films where we see through the eyes of the hero seem entirely likely. Perhaps the idea could branch out to more genres, even to where one sees not just an action film, but a fantasy or science fiction one, maybe even a romance that takes the viewer on a few dates with a dreamy actor or actress.

It brings a lot to the table in terms of how the average audience member will view movies from this point forwards. Though most of it will ride on the success of “Hardcore Henry,” it seems like we might have more viewer-as-the-hero movies coming our way if things work out. Whether you take that to be a good or bad thing is up to you.

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