TIFF Report: Hardcore

Who’s in it: Haley Bennett (The Equalizer) and Sharlto Copley (District 9, Maleficent). And you. Sort of.

Who’s behind it: First-time feature director Ilya Naishuller. Naishuller wrote the screenplay, too.

Who’ll love it: The obvious answer is gamers (Hardcore is shot from the protagonist’s POV, giving it a very first-person shooter kind of feel) but it also holds an appeal for anyone into action movies with a high body count and a low probability of running into Liam Neeson for the hundredth time this year. No offence, Liam Neeson.

What it’s about: Suddenly a cyborg (which would have been a great title for this movie), Henry is unceremoniously thrust into a situation where he and his wife must try to escape the Warhol-esque Akan, a telekinetic terrorist bent on building his own personal army modeled on Henry’s unique design. An intense game of cat and mouse ensues and we’re never sure who’s chasing who as the cyborg and the would-be warlord flatten Moscow in under 24 hours is pursuit of their own goals—Henry’s is to save his wife while Akan’s is to destroy Henry (right after he’s made enough copies of him to take over the world).

Why you should see it:  From the awesome, kill-filled, slow-motion title sequence to the generous use of personal flamethrowers, Hardcore is relentless in its delivery of fast-paced action. Sprinkled with dark humour (will incongruously-timed cell phone ringtones ever stop being funny?) and one unexpected, show-stopping musical number courtesy of the excellent Sharlto Copley, the film brings something fresh to the action genre—beyond its innovative POV perspective. Even if it wasn’t as tidy as it could be in spots, it still had the audience applauding enthusiastically at its finish—and not just because we were terrified of what any cyborgs at the screening might do to us if we didn’t.

When you can see it: Hardcore screened as part of the Midnight Madness program this weekend. Catch one of the other two screenings on Monday September 14 at 4:15 or Friday September 18 at 1:00pm. Both screenings take place at Scotiabank theatre.

Watch the trailer here and check out the poster below.