17 April 2016

A Terrible Vision

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People rightly moan that there aren't enough female directors working in Hollywood which seems to be a problem that the Wachowskis are single-handedly trying to solve themselves. A few weeks ago, and before it was announced that Andy had transitioned into Lilly, a friend asked if it was me who'd told him that one of the Coen Brothers had had a sex change. I thought for a second before responding that it wasn't, but I may have told him that one of the Wachowski's had. “Oh” he said, “that makes more sense”. I asked why he was asking to which he answered “Because I was watching an interview with the Coens the other day and I was trying to work out which one of them it was”. He then paused before concluding “I wondered why they both had fucking beards”. Well, to quote The Kinks, “it's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world”. If turning into Martha from Arthur will make a person happy, but doesn't involve somebody then having to drag a fat girl out of a lake and remove a moth from her throat, then who are we to judge? However, as acceptable as it is for a person to surgically alter their sexual organs, I draw the line at video-games that attempt to become films and films that attempt to become video-games. This all leads me to Hardcore Henry which now joins The Boy and Daddy's Home as films I've seen this year that definitely sound like they're going to be gay pornos.

Essentially the film attempts to be the missing link between both cinema and video-games by strapping a GoPro camera to the lead actor's head and filming everything as though it's a first-person shooter. Imagine that the director was a chef that's tried to combine a main meal with a dessert. Except rather than trying to create something with elements of both but which still works on its own, he's simply mushed the two courses together to make a slightly crappy mess. This isn't helped by the fact that the main character doesn't actually use a gun for a lot of the running time and so Hardcore Henry does occasionally just feel like you're watching an episode of Mitchell and Webb's Peep Show whilst jacked on fucking bath salts. I'd tell you the story of the movie but as far as I could work out there actually really wasn't one. Essentially some guy called Henry has lost his voice but has been given a robotic arm and leg to make him about as punchy as a drunken Sean Penn and as silent as the gagged Madonna that he married and subsequently battered. Basically Henry wakes up in a lab to discover that people are trying to kill him and so does a Forrest Gump and just starts running. He also teams up with Sharlto Copley who seems determined here to prove that anybody who said Chappie was the most irritating performance he could give were seriously fucking wrong.

However as well as there being no real story, nor is there really any main character whatsoever. Of course this isn't a problem exclusive to this action film as anybody whose ever seen a Steven Seagal movie will know. However rather than centring the thing around a bland, over-weight man whose goatee looks as though he's had implants intended for a 1970's vagina, there quiet literally is no main character here at all. Henry, like a Milford Boy, is neither seen nor heard, which makes him only slightly more charismatic than I ever found Paul Walker to be. I think the intention is for this to make you feel as though you're quite literally the main character, however, fuck that. I want a person that I can root for instead of a self-hating, misanthrope that makes jokes about recently deceased actors... that, let's face it, were never actually any good. Plus by having a giant hole where the main character should be, you're essentially asking me to fill it in with whatever I want, a bit like a religious person when they're faced with something that they don't understand. In which case I'm watching an athletic man with prosthetic limbs that's good at killing people. That's not me.. that's one of Oscar Pistorius's fucking night-terrors.

In fact the film actually begins with a surreal slow-motion montage that graphically depicts the mutilation of dozens of people. Imagine the opening titles to a Bond film as though directed by the fucking Zodiac Killer and you won't be too far off. Throats are slit, torsos are stabbed, and one man gets his brains completely shot out which would arguably now make him one of the film's target audience. Honestly, Hardcore Henry is a bit crap because it doesn't understand that you can't just cross two separate forms of story telling and expect them to work without adaptation. I don't know if anybody has tried any of the recent Call Of Duty games but I was playing one of the latest Black Ops iterations and it had a similar problem. I put the disk in and it felt like half an hour later that I was still watching some crappy cut-scene as the game decided to replace interactivity with its own aspirations of out-shitting Michael Bay at making terrible action movies. However whereas that game did occasionally let me push a button, Hardcore Henry just continued on for ninety minutes and then the credits rolled.

I mean, have you ever felt the annoyance of playing 'one life each' on a shit game with a mate, but by the time it was your turn to play you'd have to go home? I can guarantee that the director of Hardcore Henry has because that'll be the moment he screamed 'Eureka!' and got to work on this movie. Speaking of which, the IMDB trivia claims that said director has been referred to as “the next Quentin Tarantino”. And by that I can only assume that they mean because he's made something that may seem original to a casual cinema-goer but to us hardcore elitists, is obviously just a riff on a million other movies. I mean, it has the same mad-cap insanity as Jason Statham's Crank, however in what fucking world would one of The Stath's films be improved by keeping him off-screen? Sadly, and considering the POV element is designed to make you feel part of the experience, it also seems to have adopted the misogyny of Crank too. If there's a woman here then it's because she's a manipulative bitch, a damsel in distress, or simply because the movie wanted some window dressing and they come as a package with the tits. So the movie wants you to feel as though you're the main character, unless of course you were silly enough to possess a vagina instead of a cock, in which case you can jog on. I'm sure the Wachowski's will be gutted.

Presumably the GoPro thing is also meant to make the action seem more kinetic, however the reality is that you just don't see anything at all. Sure, the film is absolutely non-stop from start to finish but that's true of The Raid too. However I don't remember seeing the phenomenal fighters attempt to kill each other in The Raid and wish somebody could replace the balletic choreography with just one of the fighters attempting to twat the camera-guy. Plus video-games and Peep Show aside, the entire selling point of seeing a live-action FPS scene in a movie was done in the 2005 film Doom. At least when Tarantino rips other movies off he picks some good ones like Lady Snowblood or City On Fire.. who the fuck thinks it's a good idea to steal from one of The Rock's shitter movies? I suppose you could argue that there's a certain admirability in the way that Hardcore Henry has decided on its gimmick and then stuck with it all the way to the end, but with the exception of a few decent car stunts, the concept doesn't really work at all. In which case fair play for seeing the whole thing through to the end but if I bite into a meal and discover it's made of shit then it's not much of a consolation to discover that I've been treated to such a large portion.

So to conclude, I wouldn't say that Hardcore Henry is unwatchable, and it's not without its fleeting moments of interest, although the same could be said of a sex-show that I once saw in Amsterdam for a joke and I can't say that I exactly liked the experience. Nor is the film entirely free of enjoyment and it wouldn't be wrong to refer to the movie as being a roller-coaster ride. However like a roller-coaster ride, the fun does only amount to a few seconds after a fucking hell of a long wait. Although if we're comparing the two things then in Hardcore Henry's favour, I'd say that if anything does go wrong then watching this film is less likely to end with your legs being amputated. I'll even give the movie credit for at least experimenting with something vaguely new in regards to the entire thing being filmed as a point of view shot, though the Nazi's performed experiments all the time and all we learnt from a lot of those is that we don't ever want that kind of thing to happen again. Having said that, I did take a chum along to see this movie with me and he fucking loved the thing. But he also claims London Has Fallen is now one of his all-time favourite movies and so I just took his approval as confirmation of this film's shortcomings. So thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.



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