Release date: 8 April 2016
Running time: 96 min
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett
It was only a matter of time before the First-Person shooter was translated into film. With Hollywood desperately trying and consistently failing to cash-in on the multi-billion dollar video game industry, it makes sense to try and pursue a different avenue to exploit its popularity. On the surface this seems like a fun premise which, if done right, could at least make for some daft entertainment, and even perhaps allow for some unique story-telling. The result however is far from the mark, and insults the video games which have utilised the format for far more inspired and absorbing material.
In trying to recreate a video game scenario, it picks and chooses the worst possible aspects to bring to life. Despite the mind-numbing violence in which countless faceless bad guys are chucked at the camera, there’s also plenty of horribly misogynist moments, with the odd homophobic slur thrown in for good measure. It’s really obnoxious stuff, but its biggest crime is in how completely and utterly dull the whole affair is. Apart from the grey, lifeless Go-Pro cinematography, the frantic camera work and choppy editing make this more difficult to follow than the opening of Quantum of Solace, and your brain soon tires of it after the first 10 minutes. Too bad you have another 80 to make it through.
It’s clear from the get-go that director Ilya Naishuller is fan of Crank‘s Neveldine and Taylor. However where they had a charismatic -and genuinely funny- lead in the shape of Jason Statham, here our hero doesn’t even speak. This might be alright if there were a decent supporting cast to help out, but instead we have Sharlto Copely in a variety of different guises spouting utter nonsense, and a bad guy that’s so crass that he’ll make you cringe. There’s nothing even remotely controversial or shocking here, as much as it so badly wishes there was. It’s just a waste of time.
It’s sad to think that video games have evolved so much, can be intellectually stimulating and infinitely creative, and yet here have been reduced to such misogynistic, heinous drivel. When Naishuller isn’t shoving gore in your face, then it’s naked women or incredibly naff dialogue. At one point a group of women in a brothel sexually assault Henry when he’s incapacitated, and unable to give verbal consent. Because y’know, blokes like that, right? Archaic, amateur tosh. Go and play Doom instead: at least it looks prettier.