Peter Suderman on Hardcore Henry and the Shrinking Divide Between Movies and Video Games


Hardcore Henry, via STX Entertainment

This week's Vox column is on Hardcore Henry and the ways that video games and movies are borrowing from each other.

I argue that it's a better sign for games than for film. Here's how it starts: 

Hardcore Henry is less a movie you watch and more of a big-screen simulation you experience. The film, shot entirely in fish-eyed first person, with arms and legs flailing below, forces moviegoers into its perspective and then batters them through a mess of frantic action sequences. On a big screen, the effect is literally dizzying: It's like watching a feature-length, large-format video game controlled by someone else.

That's not an accident. The story and visuals borrow unapologetically from the tropes of gaming, and director Ilya Naishuller sometimes seems more concerned with making the movie feel like a game than a movie. It's the latest and most obvious sign of the shrinking divide between movies and video games — one that bodes better for video games than for movies.

Just about every element of Hardcore Henry somehow links back to the world of video games, right down to the story structure.

In the opening scene, the protagonist, Henry, wakes up in a science fiction lab and is introduced to his body, complete with various enhancements that give him unusual strength and durability. As is often the case in video games, he's essentially a blank: He has no memories and no voice, no self except his name. The sequence acts as a tutorial, explaining the basics of the character's movement and capabilities to the audience.

From there, Hardcore Henry proceeds through a series of action scenes that function like video game levels. 

Read the whole thing at Vox

For those interested in how some of the crazier first-person shots in Hardcore Henry were achieved, a behind the scenes music video provides some insight. Watch it after the jump: