Also known as Every Shooter Ever: the Movie.
I don’t remember when I first came upon Hardcore Henry. I want to say 2012, but the first teaser I can find is from 2014. Regardless, I remember this scene quite clearly, and was very interested in the first person perspective. Back then, it was titled Hardcore; the “Henry” wasn’t added until the movie’s first full-length trailer.
Anyway, Hardcore Henry is a fresh take on the action movie genre. There’s quite honestly very little in the way of drama or dialogue or any of that boring character development stuff; Henry has blood on his hands (literally) pretty much in the first ten minutes, and it stays there until the credits roll.
More than that, though, is the first person perspective. Those who know me know that I’m primarily a shooter player; I usually put about fifty hours into the annual Call of Duty and a smattering of other titles here and there. As a result, Hardcore Henry‘s unique camera angle intrigued me. After the film came out, I remember dismissing reviews saying how the first person camera was confusing and nauseating; after all, I assumed that these reviewers simply never played a shooter.
I quickly realized that the reviewers were right, though. One thing that a lot of gamers (myself included) take for granted is view stabilization. Our brains automatically stabilize our views when running (or moving at all), and game developers replicate that in-engine. However, strapping a GoPro to a bobbing head means that the camera picks up everything, including the aforementioned view bobbing. Of course, when the actor is running this is further exacerbated, and at full sprint it becomes hard to see anything at all. I like to think I play a lot of FPS games, and yet the view bob was almost too much for me, often devolving into random streaks of color intertwined with bloody squishes and gunshots.
That being said, the movie was still a fun watch. The characters may have been boring and the view a little hard to handle at times, but the near-constant flow of gore, action, and slapstick comedy made the journey enjoyable nonetheless (quite memorable is the wrong drawer scene in the strip club). I particularly liked the music usage, especially with the random Magnificent Seven soundtrack and the last killing spree set to “Don’t Stop Me Now”.
Hardcore Henry isn’t for everyone. It’s gory, it’s bloody, it’s ridiculous, and it could legitimately incite motion sickness. But for those that can handle it, it’s an enjoyable mess of fighting and action, with few things as mundane as plot or writing or romance. Gamers will appreciate the references and elements taken from shooters, and even non-gamers who like a gory mess will still find fun.