What makes Hardcore Henry so breathtakingly unique is that this film was shot completely in the first-person perspective; meaning the protagonist’s POV is all the audience ever sees. Paul Verhoeven explored this technique in his 1987 sci-fi classic, RoboCop, and Kathryn Bigelow deftly utilized it in the opening sequence of her dystopian masterpiece, Strange Days. But this is the first time that a feature-length movie has been presented entirely in the first-person perspective from start to finish, and it’s a groundbreaking revelation.
Hardcore Henry was shot almost entirely on a GoPro digital camera system: very revolutionary and very cleverly done, but not the greatest HD resolution. Rapid camera moves succumb to bad digital blurring, and darkened interior sequences suffer from low-grade pixilated grain. But thematically, this isn’t a problem since Henry’s cybernetic POV is constantly glitching and fracturing as he fights and kills to stay alive.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a little “low budget” by present standards, but again, it gels completely with the film’s theme. Gunshots, explosions, and other all-out chaos may lack the prestige and verve of other big-budget extravaganzas but service this particular vehicle quite well. The pulse-pounding techno-rock soundtrack is an ever-present force but nearly serves as a detriment to the story since it continually reminds us that we’re in a fabricated reality. But maybe that’s a good thing.
Bonus features include deleted scenes, a fan chat Q&A, and two separate audio commentaries. Digital Copy included.
If you have a weak stomach, this movie is definitely not for you. I cannot stress that enough. The violence is amped up to an overwhelming degree and is about as graphic as it gets. A VR version of this film would put viewers in the hospital with years of therapy to follow. It’s like a nightmare that you can’t wake up from, so be warned. But, if you’re into progressively innovative and truly cutting-edge filmmaking, Hardcore Henry is some seriously twisted, brilliant shit.
Studio: Universal, 2015
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 97 mins.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky