Have you ever jacked in? Have you ever wire tripped? Have you ever done it for two hours without wanting to throw up?
Producer Timur Bekmambetov and director Ilya Naishuller are hoping that you can stomach a feature-length film they describe as “the world’s first POV action movie” — a project that will most likely feel like you’re watching someone else play a video game.
Shot on a GoPro camera and starring Sharlto Copley, Hardcore exists because of Naishuller’s insanely popular music video for “Bad Motherfucker”, but while that was a four-and-a-half minute, first-person display of fantastic action choreography, it’s a bit difficult to imagine watching a feature version without getting at least a little queasy.
On the other hand, it shows an incredible amount of faith in the filmmaker to give us a narrow view without shaking us into oblivion. We normally see POV in horror films where it’s purposefully used to hide or obfuscate imagery, but in an action film, the goal would be the opposite. Of course there are some fine examples of the technique — from distressing segments in Strange Days to the feature-length POV of Enter the Void — but there’s no denying that this is going to be ambitious and innovative (whether it shatters test tubes or not).
That also brings up the question of whether it’s really the first POV action movie. My money would go to 1989’s 84C MoPic, unless you really want to split hairs between a boots on the ground war movie and an “action film.” Bullets are flying, soldiers are in the shit, it’s an action movie.
But gimmick aside, according to The Hollywood Reporter the plot of Hardcore focuses on “a cyborg created at a secret Moscow laboratory who is trying to find a girl he was in love with in his previous life.”
What’s sort of funny here is that beyond all the nauseating possibilities of watching kinetic action from that perspective, my real worry is watching all the down time that way. Is POV really the most compelling way to shoot all the dialogue scenes in between the fights? How do you edit naturally if we’re supposed to be seeing what someone else sees? Or will it be so much like strapping ourselves to Iko Uwais’ face in The Raid that the incidentals won’t matter?
There are a pile of questions, but that’s to be expected of filmmakers trying something new. For that, Naishuller and company should be commended, even if they need to send pallets of Dramamine to theaters along with their reels.