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Hardcore Henry’’s first-person action proves tiresome

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So wait, are we in this movie?
Mike D'Angelo

Two and a half stars

Hardcore Henry Haley Bennett, Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky. Directed by Ilya Naishuller. Rated R. Opens Friday citywide.

Action movies have been taking their cues from video games for some time now, but Hardcore Henry, the first feature from Russian director Ilya Naishuller (who started out making videos for the rock band he fronts, Biting Elbows), takes the first-person-shooter aesthetic to an exhausting new extreme. In essence, you, the viewer, are the film’s cybernetic, superhuman (and conveniently mute) protagonist, as the camera never once deviates from Henry’s point of view, which the audience shares. It’s a frenetic, gore-heavy, testosterone-fueled style that will appeal strongly to teenage boys and alienate almost everybody else.

Resuscitated following some sort of accident, RoboCop-style, Henry is tasked by a sexy doctor (Haley Bennett) to stop a crazed villain (Danila Kozlovsky) from destroying the world, or something. The details are hazy, because Hardcore Henry never stops moving long enough to coherently address them. To be fair, the effects Naishuller and his team pull off frequently dazzle, and are sometimes hilarious in their sheer over-caffeinated bravado. But what’s exhilarating in the confines of a five-minute music video becomes oppressive when prolonged for 90 minutes. It doesn’t help that Sharlto Copley (District 9) keeps turning up as cloned variations on a wacky sidekick. Like the movie itself, he’s way too much of a good thing.

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