By far, the most aggressive film I saw at last year's Toronto film festival was a first-person action film that felt unlike anything else screening at the entire event.
Since then, it's been retitled and now you can get your first look at the official trailer for Hardcore Henry tonight, and it's every bit as lunatic as the film itself. I spoke to writer/director Ilya Naishuller this week about how things have unfolded for him and his movie since STX Entertainment picked it up for release.
“I've been working on it every day for the last few months,” he told me, and the result is a film that has been almost totally visually re-invented since its festival premiere. He's working with a great DI post-production team, and the version of the movie that will be playing at the SXSW festival in March is way more vivid than what I saw. “It's like you saw it wearing sunglasses in Toronto.”
His movie is a shotgun-blast of crazy straight to the eyeballs, shot entirely from first-person POV. I asked him about the shooting of the movie, in which the lead character does insane stunts and kills about ten million bad guys and jumps out of planes and repels down buildings, and the entire time, we're him. We are Hardcore Henry. “It was sort of an Armageddon situation,” Naishuller said. “It's easier to teach the drillers to go to space than it would be to teach the astronauts to drill.” Naishuller himself operated many of the sequences, and he taught his stuntmen how to run the special camera rigs that were created for the film. In the end, almost a dozen different people “played” Henry over the course of the shoot, depending on the requirements of each of the scenes.
Here's the poster for the film:
When I asked Ilya about changing the title from Hardcore to Hardcore Henry, he said that there was obvious concern about the overlap with the title of the great Paul Schrader film from the '70s, and that he ended up loving this new title because of how well it sets up that this is a movie where you are this character.
That trailer does a pretty good job of conveying the insane energy you can expect when Hardcore Henry does a triple flip into theaters on April 8, 2016.