Ilya Naishuller Redefines Found Footage With FPS Aesthetics

Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore Henry Film Details:

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Writer:  Ilya Naishuller (screenwriter), Will Stewart (additional writing)

Release Date: 8 April 2016 (USA)

Release Format: Theatrical

MPAA Rating: Rated R

Genre: Action Adventure Sci-Fi


A first-person action film from the eyes of Henry, who’s resurrected from death with no memory. He must discover his identity and save his wife from a warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.


Hardcore Henry is a film that merges video-game aesthetics with cinematic artistry. Although presented in a first-person perspective it is not your typical found footage template. “Hardcore Henry” employs an innovative approach to film making. In the absence of regurgitated POV idiocy, (excuse me, POV cinematography). “Hardcore Henry” writer/director Ilya Naishuller created an adrenaline infused ninety-minute film.

Audiences will experience what the gaming community have long indulged in. Presented on screen is an incarnation of a tactical first-person shooter (FPS) game. First-person shooters (FPS) are one of the most popular gaming genres to date. Developed with block buster budgets most return with record breaking sales. Video game retailers have a constant rotation of FPS titles. Ilya Naishuller capitalized on this trend. Naishuller extracted the DNA from first-person shooters (FPS) to conceive “Hardcore Henry”.


Actor Sharlto Copley offers a monumental performances in his portrayal of the characters; Jimmy.Copley doesn’t have one character to perform, he has several. Throughout the film Jimmy is a mercenary, coke head, soldier, stoner, and the list goes on. Jimmy  is a character with many incarnations. Each character stems from one individual. Copley executes each performance with its own distinct characteristics. “Hardcore Henry” is Copley’s solo performance, one that will open the doors for this talented actor.

The moral of the story is; Henry is not a pussy.

Henry awakens in the laboratory. His body, damaged in a battle yet unknown. Missing are limbs and memory. Once reconstructed to military grade specifications the action begins. The high intensity tension doesn’t end until the final credit roll. Throughout the film Henry embarks on mission after mission. Much like its video game counterpart “Hardcore Henry” delves into far-fetched science fiction scenarios. The plot is for entertainment purposes in mind. Philosophical attributes, and logical thinking lie buried beneath blood, bullets, and fisticuffs.

“Hardcore Henry” does not tread on espionage. Nor does the film offer peripeteia or story structure. The protagonist is on a constant move between point A to point B to point C. Act one serves as the introduction. The cybernetic entity known as Henry must rescue the damsel in distress, (his wife?).  Act two finds the protagonist in a state of fight or flight. Act Three is the defining moment. All major players reveal their motives in this final stage. Everything unexplored and overdue for explanation settles in this climatic sequence.

The cinematography and special effects in the film “Hardcore Henry” merit high acclaim. The sequences are well-crafted. Intense labor and thought went into creating each settings. The scenes themselves emitted characteristics of its own.


“Hardcore Henry” is a film for selective audience. Gamers will enjoy the film for what it represents. As described above this is a video-game concept made into a film. Yet, if prone to motion sickness and/or vertigo this film is to be avoided at all costs. The camera is in constant motion and makes it difficult to perceive the action taking place. “Hardcore Henry” is a roller coaster ride of excitement with spinning and swaying movements.

The villain is a cartoonish entity. He’s the metaphorical anchor for the film. The character emulates the typical narcissistic, power-hungry lunatic. Only this time this particular villain has telekinetic abilities. This is an entity the film could’ve done without. It’s not the acting that cast a negative light on this subject. In fact, it is the character itself. The character is a blasphemy derived from the creative writing process.

The ending to “Hardcore Henry” felt rushed and over-the-top. Throughout the film audiences are wondering why Henry has a target on his back. The answer reveal themselves in Act three. Yet by the time revelations are disclosed it loses its “wow” effect. A traitorous reveal is also presented and that too offers little reward to the audience.

Ilya Naishuller succeeds in creating a video game -esque film. Yet fails to produce a story-driven narrative with an appropriate final sequence.

[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]Rating Score: 0-10 Avoid | 11-20 Mediocre | 21-30  Good | 31-40 Average | 41-50 Satisfactory | 51-60 Stunning  | 71-80 Must See | 81-90  Amazing | 91-100 Impressive [/box]


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