Hardcore Henry Movie Review


Hardcore Henry Movie Review
Sharlto Copley's having a really good time in, Hardcore Henry


There aren't a lot of first-person perspectives when it comes to film making. Sure you might get a quick glimpse from Ordell Robbie's (Samuel L. Jackson) eyes as he's looking up in utter confusion at Jackie (Pam Grier) & Co. during his final moments in Jackie Brown (1997), or you get to see what it's like to rob and commit murders in the underrated Strange Days (1995), but we rarely get to see that style for more than just a few moments.

Found footage films are similar to this premise (The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine, Cloverfield), yet they don't feel exactly the same because the audience and the character knows that they're holding a camera. Video games have been using this perspective since the 70's (Spasim, Maze War) up through today (Doom, GoldenEye 007, Halo). Out of all of the shooters, action-adventures, and driving games that we've been inundated with, Mirror's Edge (2008) is in my opinion, the most memorable first-person game of all time.

Who wouldn't want to play as a hot chick that parkours over skyscrapers in a dystopian future? I'm in. Also, one of the most controversial music videos of all time was from Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up", which was all done in first-person. If done with expert planning and execution, the art of first-person can be a cool and exhilarating tool to use in future film making.

Hardcore Henry

Writer/Director Ilya Naishuller is new to the Hollywood scene. Similar to Neill Blomkamp (District 9), he established himself by making short films that later influenced his full length films. Performing with his Moscow-based band Biting Elbows, Naishuller directed a couple of music videos that used the first-person format ("The Stampede", "Bad Motherf***er"), that directly influenced this film. Hardcore Henry is a special thing to behold.

It is in no way intended for everyone, but for the people who can handle its insanity, it is truly a beautiful thing. Like a fat guy at a Klondike eating contest; There are no breaks and your head will probably be searing with pain, but it's all worth it once the throbbing goes away. Take Mirror's Edge, 2006's Crank, and the Xiao Xiao Stick Figure Kung Fu videos on YouTube, and you'll get a general idea of what this film represents. From the up-close and graphic opening credits to its perfect ending of poetic justice, the action never stops. If you take a piss break, you'll miss something. If you go get some popcorn, you'll miss something. If you... yeah.

Even during scenes of slow down, there's always something crazy going on with a character or in the background, sometimes both. The brutality, the blood, the gore, the intensity, and the overall high adrenaline, takes this film into the realm of hilarity. In no way a negative, the outrageous energy of Hardcore Henry had me so excited, that I was laughing hysterically for most of the film and long afterwards. The choice of music is also well-fit. Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now", is just one of many enthusiastic tracks that ups the passion. This movie's so fun that even the limited storytelling and character substance is unimportant.

What characters there are is held to about a handful, aside from Henry's hordes of fist/bullet/grenade-fodder, that is. Henry himself is played by multiple stuntmen and even the director himself. You see his face once but you can't see very much of it. Who we do see, is a whole bunch of Sharlto Copley (Elysium). If you've ever wanted to see more of this guy, then you're in for a treat. He's all over the place and indestructible.

Hardcore Henry also has to have a villain. Danila Kozlovsky (Vampire Academy) plays Akan; A sadistic power-monger with unexplained telekinetic powers. He's the typical heartless dick that you root for to meet a gruesome end. Brief appearances from Haley Bennet (The Equalizer 2014), Will Stewart (Training Day), Cyrus Arnold (Zoolander 2), and Tim Roth (The Hateful Eight), are mostly very short and forgettable, but Roth delivers in a couple of lines what some can't even deliver in an entire film.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of Hardcore Henry

The Good- Copley overload, the brothel beat down, the dominatrix car chase, tank you very much, where'd that horse come from?, the rapist meets the nutcracker, and the rooftop battle grand finale.

The Bad- The Copley dance number across multiple Jimmy's; A cool idea, but odd and a bit of a momentary buzzkill.

The Ugly- I didn't know that optic nerves could stretch out so far!

Final Thoughts

If GoPro cameras can make movies this much fun, then we need to see a whole lot more of them. Every punch, every gunshot, every single moment of mayhem, is goddamn glorious! I loved Hardcore Henry and you should too. I mean, how often can a film make you feel like you're on coke for the entire time? Or is that meth? Either way, I felt alive after seeing this unique experience. With a budget of only ten million dollars, this film should easily make its money back. But regardless, go support pure gruesome entertainment and ask for seconds! After you've taken a couple of aspirin. (The running scenes had my eyes bouncing up and down with pain) Still worth it.
Rating-7.5 out of 10

Hardcore Henry (2015)
R | 1h 36min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi | 8 April 2016 (USA)
A first-person action film from the eyes of Henry, who's resurrected from death with no memory. He must discover his identity and save his wife from a warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.

Director: Ilya Naishuller
Writers: Ilya Naishuller (screenwriter), Will Stewart
Stars: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett