I wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped in Hardcore Henry (released on Blu-ray* in Canada from VVS Films). Was I going to vomit from the first person view? Was it going to be a cheesy flick? Will I see boobies? All serious questions that needed answering. Well, I’m happy to say that no I didn’t vomit, the film is cheesy, but in a kickass way and yes, there was boobies. Hardcore Henry is a ball smashing, head rocking action fest, full of gritty violence, excellent music and actor Sharlto Copley stealing the scene every time he shows up, which is a lot! I could stop the review here and leave it at that, but why don’t I waste your time a bit more…
Henry is resurrected from death with no memory, and he must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.
If you’re expecting a plot for Hardcore Henry, prepare to be disappointed. There is a trace of a plot, but it’s incredibly paper thin.
Henry wakes up not the man he used to be. He is a walking cyborg. The doctor who woke him up and fixed his broken appendages is Estelle (Haley Bennett), his wife. Before Henry can get his voice box completed, a group of baddies storm into the compound and they try to kill(?)/steal(?) Henry. Henry escapes with Estelle, but they quickly become separated. Thankfully, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) the man of many talents shows up and saves the day. He tells Henry he can fix him up if they get back to his lab.
The movie wouldn’t be as hardcore, though, if they easily made it back to the lab. So, cue a shit tonne of action, violence, fight scenes and car chases all done in the first person view.
You need to see Hardcore Henry. Yes, you may come out feeling ill due to the camera style, but I find that if you try not to focus on something and just let the action unfold on screen, it’s much easier on the brain. The movie wouldn’t have worked as well if the view was anything but this style. Because it’s something different, you can forgive the missing story.
I previously mentioned that Sharlto Copley stole the show, and that is the god’s honest truth. He is the main character in this flick. Henry is a mute faceless being that is essentially placing the viewer in the role, so all the character development comes down to Copley, and he does everything fantastically, bringing lots of humour to the movie. On a side note, front billed Tim Roth is barely in the film (I’m talking maybe a minute if that), which is a shame.
If you ever wanted to experience a live action video game that’s good, Hardcore Henry is your ticket. It’s a heart-racing thrill ride. If you can stomach the camera work, you’ll be in for a no holds barred film that skimps on the story, but doubles up on the fun.
*The Blu-ray from VVS Films features audio commentary with director Ilya Naishuller and actor Sharlto Copley. It also has 8-minutes of deleted scenes and roughly 12 minutes of fan questions that both director Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley answer.