UPDATED with full trailer: A lot of movies have been adapted from video games but, so far as I know anyway, there hasn’t yet been a feature-length film that mines video games for inspiration but also cuts out the middle man entirely. Quite literally that’s the case with Hardcore Henry, an action film shot entirely in first person perspective that aims to capture the look and feel of a first-person shooter (think Call Of Duty), in essence making the audience the protagonist. Pack your aspirins and other calmatives, in other words.
The full trailer premiered tonight on the video streaming service Twitch.tv during a special live event on the popular gamer summit1g’s Twitch channel. Hardcore Henry tells the story of a nameless protagonist — that’s the audience, by the way — who has just been brought back from near-death by his wife. Remembering nothing about his life, he’s awake long enough to learn that his name is Henry before the room is attacked, he’s shot at, and his wife is kidnapped by a powerful warlord backed by a mercenary army. From there begins a battle through the unfamiliar streets of Moscow as everyone wants Henry dead, with the exception of a mysterious Brit who aids Henry as he fights to survive and learn the truth about his identity. Lots of very visceral action and violence ensues. Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky, and Sharlto Copley co-star, along with Andrei Dementiev, Dasha Charusha and Sveta Ustinova.
It’s a cool experiment, so it’s no wonder then Hardcore Henry made a huge impact at the Toronto Film Festival last fall where it took the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, as well as a bidding war that saw it become STX Entertainment’s first TIFF acquisition. The Twitch special event was set to continue that experiment, pairing a very video game experience with fans of pro gamers who stream their play sessions live on the service. Summit1g was set to be joined by other popular Twitch broadcasters, as well as by Hardcore Henry writer-director Ilya Naishuller, himself an avid gamer, who was scheduled for a live Q&A session.
Along with writing and directing, Naishuller produces along with Timur Bekmambetov, Inga Vainshtein Smith, and Ekaterina Kononenko. Hardcore Henry will see a theatrical release April 8.