April 10, 2016 -- This is a different kind of movie, a first person, point of view shoot-em-up video game type of movie which turns the audience into a kind of surrogate mass murderer. I went to see it for the novelty of the experience, but I ended up feeling like I had wasted my money on this movie ticket.
Shot with GoPro Hero 3 cameras strapped to the head of the main character, named Henry (played by a variety of stunt men and actors, including the film's director, Ilya Naishuller) this rig was used to create the point of view video which comprises most of this movie. Using point of view in films is not unique, but using it to such a great extent is extremely unusual in the history of film. I got tired of this same old view of things, and the boring repetition of killing, shootings, stabbings, cutting, etc.
The repetitive scenes of mayhem and murder in this movie amount to a long parade of mind numbing sameness. The relentless point of view videography isn't just a visually restrictive technique in this film, it also effectively puts the audience in the shoes of the killer, an uncomfortable moral position for some, since not all of the killings seem entirely justified.
Henry wakes up at the beginning of the movie with no memory of who he is. He is told by Estelle (Haley Bennett of “The Equalizer”) that he is her husband, and that the evil, telekinetic villain Akan (Danila Kozlovsky of “Vampire Academy”) is forcing her to work for him. She installs a robotic arm and leg on Henry to replace his missing limbs. Akan then kidnaps Estelle and Henry chases after him, murdering countless Akan minions along the way.
Henry is aided by a mysterious benefactor, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley of of “Chappie”) who appears in various guises. It turns out Jimmy is an enemy of Akan who wants revenge against him for his own reasons. He also has the technical expertise to help Henry with his new bionic body parts. I came up with a theory about who Jimmy really is in this movie. It would have been an interesting twist to the story, if it was true, but alas, it was not.
The basic story is pretty simple, Henry needs to find Estelle and rescue her from the clutches of Akan. With a story this simple, I was expecting a big revelation and some complications in the later stages of the story. There is a revelation, but it didn't have the impact I was expecting. It was mildly surprising, but not all that impressive as a story development.
After all this point-of-view action, a hundred or so people killed, and the twist near the end of the movie, I was looking at my watch, wondering when this lame movie was going to end. I'm not a gamer, so I am probably not the target audience for this film. I liked “Gamer” better than this. It seems to me, however, that for gamers, the big drawback to this film experience is that the audience has no control over what happens. It is not interactive.
I think the next logical step for movies going in this direction is to not only make them interactive, but to make them a virtual reality experience, with 360-degree views of the action. The idea is to be inside the movie. The first step on the journey to this is 3D, which might have helped this film. This is an ambitious, inventive film that is unique in the extent of its technical videography, but it just isn't very good. It rates a C.
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