Reel Reviews: ‘Hardcore Henry’ and ‘Demolition’

By on April 13, 2016

Two different views into character

After viewing “Hardcore Henry,” I wasn’t sure if I had just seen the worst movie ever made or if this new “genre” is a really good idea. The entire movie is filmed using the same vantage point as massively popular first person shooter games, like Call of Duty. Therefore, the viewer is the lead character. We see things as he sees them … for good and bad.

We are Henry, and we wake to find a seductive doctor (Haley Bennett, “Marley & Me”) replacing our missing limbs with robotic prosthesis. All of the sudden, all hell breaks loose and we are on the run, escaping from the clutches of Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), who is some kind of evil mastermind with superhuman abilities. Akan has a group of henchmen, led by Yuri (Oleg Poddubnyy), who are bound, for some reason, to catch and kill us. Along the way we are aided by a series of characters, all of whom turn out to be a sort of hologram of Jimmy (Sharlto Copley, “District 9”), a scientist who is Akan’s adversary.

As far as I know, this is the premiere of the first fully ‘first person’ movie to hit the screen. It should not be confused with found footage films made popular by “The Blair Witch Project” or other creatively filmed movies like “Being John Malkovich.” “Hardcore Henry” is filmed to replicate a video game. There are some holes in the concept; slow motion doesn’t occur in real life and no one looks at their feet and hands as much as Henry. I expected the point of view to make me dizzy or nauseous, but it did not; to its credit, the movie is not choppy or clumsy.

If you, like me, are way too curious to just leave “Hardcore Henry” alone, you’ll likely find this movie entertaining, at the least. It is entertaining, but it gets a bit boring after an hour. If you’re looking to see a good movie, go see something else … like “Demolition.”

 

In “Demolition,” Jake Gyllenhall plays a man unhinged by tragedy. “I really liked this movie,” said reviewer Michael Upton. “It’s been awhile since I was able to get behind a movie 100 percent, but from the writing to the soundtrack, ‘Demolition’ is a wonderful piece of art.” (Photo from people.com)

In “Demolition,” Jake Gyllenhall plays a man unhinged by tragedy. “I really liked this movie,” said
reviewer Michael Upton. “It’s been awhile since I was able to get behind a movie 100 percent, but
from the writing to the soundtrack, ‘Demolition’ is a wonderful piece of art.” (Photo from people.com)

Also in theaters: ‘Demolition’

Once again, director Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) has given the world of cinema a glimpse into the life of a complex character. Meet Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young man living a typical life in the city. He works in a corporate office. He’s married to his boss’ daughter (Chris Cooper, Heater Lind, respectively). He seems happy, but he is distracted. Then an unfathomable tragedy occurs. His wife dies in a car accident. Davis goes numb, even more so than he was before.

Reeling in nothingness, Davis goes on with his life, except he makes a strange connection with Karen (Naomi Watts), a customer support representative for a vending machine company. More of a friendship than a love interest, Davis and Karen start spending time together. He befriends her son, Chris (Judah Lewis), who is struggling to understand his sexuality.

The demolition part of “Demolition” comes when Davis develops a coping mechanism that compels him to dismantle anything he deems broken — first a leaky refrigerator, then a bathroom stall with a squeak. Ultimately, Davis enlists Chris to help take apart his marriage — by destroying his entire home, save the bedroom. “Demolition” is a study in the human character, and Gyllenhaal is simply masterful in portraying feelings without feeling. I really liked this movie. It’s been a while since I was able to get behind a movie 100 percent, but from the writing to the soundtrack, “Demolition” is a wonderful piece of art.

Agree or disagree? Reel Reviews works like this: 1) Watch a movie; 2) Send suggestions, comments and criticism to Michael at SomeProMCU@gmail.com.

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