'Hardcore Henry' - Partial Movie Review

"Hardcore Henry" was something of a cause célèbre when it did the festival circuit, but it sank fairly quickly in cinemas. It's a gimmick, a film shot like a first-person-shooter game. Henry awakes at the beginning of the movie, and we see through his eyes. A woman explains he's lost an arm, a leg, and his memories and can't talk, but she quickly attaches prosthetics for the limbs. By the way, I'm your wife and there's this evil man Akan. Oh dear, Akan is here, he's kidnapped the wife, what will Henry do?! He runs and jumps and shoots and kills, occasionally getting assistance and hints from characters who are no more appealing than the NPCs in most FPSes. And Henry himself - he can't speak, presumably to make him more generic, easier for us to feel like him as we run and maim from behind his eyes. But because he can't speak, we have no sense of character at all from him - the action starts immediately and never lets up, so we can't even learn his character from his actions ... except for things like him being totally unbothered by getting blood, brains, and giblets all over himself. He just keeps running.

At least, that was what had happened in the first 35 minutes. It was becoming increasingly clear that it was going to be nothing but blood and guts action, and the movie helped me discover that I'm susceptible to shaky-cam nausea. Most found-footage movies give you some respite, moments of exposition where the camera stays almost still. Not this one: it never stops, and by the time I quit I was decidedly green around the gills. I would have continued to watch it in small chunks (pun intended - there are lots of small chunks in the movie ...) if there was any hope for intelligence, but that simply wasn't the aim. It seemed obvious to me that a woman who tells you she's your wife when she knows you have no memories and offers no proof should be taken with a big grain of salt ... and (SPOILER) Wikipedia's plot summary tells me I was totally right about that.

Directed by nobody-you've-ever-heard-of and produced by Timur Bekmambetov, which should have been reason enough to stop as soon as I saw his name in the opening credits. For those not familiar with him, his Russian-language "Night Watch" from 2004 was ... fascinating without being good, but it's all been downhill since then with him making masterpieces like "Wanted" (yup, you can curve a bullet, just like a baseball) and "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."