Hardcore Henry review


One hot summer’s day as a young teen, I casually sauntered into our local computer shop. Sat in the corner was a PC, running a copy of Wolfenstein 3D. Although I’d seen primitive 3D games before, I’d never seen anything like this, and I got stuck in. I killed Nazis. I opened doors. I reluctantly shot dogs. I’m not sure if it was the heat of the shop, motion sickness from the game or the stomach churning animal cruelty, but after about 20 minutes of play, I became gripped with nausea, and threw up all over the keyboard. Whilst it didn’t exactly endear me to the shop’s owner (who exclusively referred to me as ‘Sick Boy’ for every subsequent visit), it certainly made a strong point about the visceral power of the first person point of view. Last night, it almost happened again.

I was at a screening of Hardcore Henry, the first feature film from director Ilya Naishuller, who came to Hollywood’s attention with a music video he shot for his band, Biting Elbows in 2013. ‘Bad Motherf***er’ was a 5-minute mini-action movie filmed entirely in first person, that perfectly mimicked the experience of playing a modern shooter.

But if that video was his proof of concept, then Hardcore Henry is his Gold Master – 96 minutes of hardcore POV insanity. If you can imagine watching a version of Crank directed by Hideo Kojima, filmed entirely on a Go Pro attached to Jason Staham’s head, then you’ve pretty much got the idea.