Originally written and published with FilmDebate – 17th April 2016
The emergence of Hardcore Henry onto our screens in the last few weeks has brought the concept of first person POV into the feature film environment. Essentially, what this film portrays can be classified as is a cinematic video game; a brutal, action packed thrill ride that allows the audience to really become part of the energy and combat surrounding the characters and their environments. In terms of cinema and film, it’s unlike much we’ve encountered before, hence why it also carries a sheer amount of potential, particularly regarding future releases.
It’s a Dangerous World
During this example, the audience is literally shown the entire story through the eyes of Henry, a man woken in an unknown laboratory, with no recollection of previous events in his life up to this point. Greeted and repaired by Estelle, who is later established as his wife, it’s revealed that he lacks a voice along with various limbs. From then on, he’s constantly on the run, now with cybernetic alterations and assisted by apparent chameleon-like comrade Jimmy, he can’t seem to catch a break. Fundamentally, it does lack somewhat of an engaging solid plot, yet the intense constant movement and involvement proves to establish an exciting and captivating journey that allows you to become the protagonist.
This development, which involved a gang of various stuntmen and an interesting head gripping contraption for the GoPro video capture, manifests as a truly interesting and original way of filmmaking – one which benefited from projection onto the big screen. Lots of thought and assembly evidently went into the production, creating further intrigue into the film itself. The custom designed rig attachment for the camera allowed a natural and fluid recording of everything the wearer perceived. It’s an extensive task to produce and fund, yet in this instance, the work paid off to construct a continuous flow of action and daring simulation for the audience to witness and become part of. Post-production funds for the film were sought after using IndieGoGo, and raised over $250,000 during its campaign.
Some behind-the-scenes footage can be seen in the music video for a song by Biting Elbows – “For the Kill” – a song that surprisingly contradicts the violent exploits of the film’s content. Yet, it demonstrates an intriguing and entirely different approach to filmmaking.
(Source: STX Entertainment)
The Vast Possibilities
In terms of what this kind of distribution and production means for further cinema developments, there are a lot of improvements that can be made to further push this ideology and thus create and increase in ingenious cinematic displays. Films could potentially hold capabilities to not just entertain, but also involve audiences to a high level of simulation. Fully aware of this throughout the entire feature, we can identify that it’s not your typical action movie, yet something beyond that, hence it’s difficult to attempt to compare it to other more conventional mediums. You don’t sympathize with the protagonist; instead the protagonist is you, thus effected by the situations and events of the narrative. Ergo, the emotions have the capabilities to become heightened in ways that may not be quite as effective in regular film framings.
What intrigued me most was the notion of using this first-person perspective more in the future, perhaps even exploring other genres to create further compelling and engaging narratives in different ways. Initially, action categorisations are the standard norm for such a gripping and intense portrayal of plot and story, yet I think the theory of utilising this into contemporary comedies, or even historical dramas would prove to become an interesting experiment for the future of film. Either way, the audience members could be brought further into the story and become characters focused around the plot. Despite the exciting ideas, it would establish as a huge risk that could easily cause distress or disagreement in the eyes of audience members and critics, much like Hardcore Henry brought assorted response due to the apparent lackluster plot and controversial presentation.