HARDCORE HENRY (2016, Ilya Naishuller)
The first-person shooter gimmick provides plenty of adrenaline for the film’s first 20-30 minutes, but wears thin quickly, as the narrative can’t sustain itself or provide any variety to the aesthetics. Exceedingly violent and overwhelmingly nihilistic, this roided-up video game plays with conventions of the genre (not that I have much experience playing them, but I get the idea) and has a few mildly amusing jokes both at the expense of the premise and just for humor’s sake, but it also misfires a lot in the tone. Misogyny and homophobia are sadly expected, but the lack of real storytelling wonder is the real downfall. The tease of Henry’s memory never pays off, and we never get a decent explanation of the villain’s superpowers. It’s just a half-built sci-fi world set up as an excuse for a lot of special effects and gore. This is like giving someone a virtual reality helmet but telling them they can only stab people in the neck.