Could POV Action Flick HARDCORE be a Cinematic Turning Point?

Cinema is currently heading towards an implosion, and we’re on the verge of a tipping point into a new era. It’ll be a few more years – perhaps a decade – before this fully kicks in, however it’s inevitable that mega-budget blockbusters will eventually cause Hollywood to implode, both creatively and financially. All of the major film companies (Disney, Warner Bros, Fox etc) are part of larger corporations so they will stay relatively afloat, however I expect we could see a string of bankrupcies in production companies over the next couple of years, which has already begun in Relativity Media. With the coming implosion, the remaining pieces need to reassemble into something different. Cinema won’t ever die, but it will need to reinvent itself, just as it has many times in the past. The next reinvention is virtual reality.

You’re probably thinking that I’ve started writing a completely different article than what’s in the headline – it’s going somewhere! Promise!

Next year, the Oculus Rift goes on sale, along with a bunch of competitor products from other games companies. They’re all pure virtual reality headsets that will almost certainly revolutionize the video games industry, but could it do the same for cinema? I think plenty of filmmakers and studios are trying to figure out the how of that, and whether they can use it to their advantage. However, it’s not just about virtual reality. With it comes a more interactive form of storytelling which will bring in new audiences and shake things up, and that can manifest itself in many different ways. One such way is handing the narrative over to the audience; a year or two ago 20th Century Fox revealed they were working on a Choose Your Own Adventure movie. Another way is point-of-view filmmaking.

POV-videos are no stranger to viewers thanks to the rise of the GoPro and first-person shooter games, but we haven’t seen it in narrative filmmaking until now. The world’s first POV-action movie, Hardcore, has debuted at Toronto International Film Festival, and apparently it’s a big hit.

Hardcore Poster

This isn’t necessarily a sudden, new thing; we knew about the project beforehand. We’ve talked about it before on here – hell, UTF even interviewed the director less than a year ago! Unfortunately I wasn’t the one who conducted that interview, as the project has only just become aware to me, but it’s been talked about within fan communities for quite some time now.

You could be thinking about how a completely first-person film would even work. Action-wise, the movie is set. Check that out in the shiny-and-new first trailer below!

Holy shit, right?

The action in it is relentless and brutal, without a doubt, but how does the story hold up? The movie recently screened at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and has been getting decent reviews, but it seems as if this blossoming new filmmaking style has yet to be mastered – I mean, it’s only one movie in.

So why was I talking all that crap about the death of movies and virtual reality?

Virtual reality obviously has a first-person quality to it, which creates a different kind of connectivity between you and the story than what’s been trotted out in art over the past century. Rather than relating to how a different character feels, you are instead fully immersing yourself into a different world; the need for a ‘guide,’ e.g. a character like Luke Skywalker, becomes removed. It feels like we’re heading towards that.

Just as Star Wars ushered in the blockbuster era that we’re still experiencing today – fuck, that was almost forty years ago – could Hardcore bring about a total reinvention of how we tell stories? Probably not, but it’s certainly a stepping stone. There’s definitely a greater conversation to be had about the impact of stuff like the Oculus Rift on other art forms – but that’s for another time.

For now, let’s just bask in the gloriousness of a full scene from Hardcore, shall we?!

You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife (Haley Bennett). She tells you that your name is Henry and congratulations, you’re now a cyborg.

5 minutes later, your wife has been kidnapped and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), he’s just a psychotic megalomaniac with telekinetic powers, and a never-ending army of mercenaries. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, Russia and everyone wants you dead. Everyone, except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). He might be on your side. Good luck Henry. You’re very much likely to need it.

Hardcore doesn’t currently have a U.S. distrubutor, but you can bet your ass it’ll have one within the next week or so.