If ever there were a thrill ride of a movie, Hardcore Henry is it. The story revolves around a man, Henry, trying to find out what happened to him after waking up from the dead in a Moscow lab. He is now a human/ robot hybrid with no memory of his former life. Before the movie takes off, which happens within the first 5 minutes, a female scientist who brought him back to life claims to be his wife. Just when she’s about to add the finishing touches to her “husband” (his voice), the evil Akan breaks up the party, causing the inciting incident that propels the movie forward. Henry must find out who is he, what’s happening, why it’s happening and how to fix it. Needless to say, the thrill ride takes you all over Russia.
The thing that captures your interest is the fact that the movie is filmed in first person shooter mode. So not only are you going along with the action, you see it from the perspective of the one involved. First person shooter is also the thing that can turn you off to the movie.
Now I enjoyed Hardcore Henry, but I have to admit that I wasn’t too sure if I would in the beginning. For the Call of Duty lovers, it is right up your alley. However, for people like myself who aren’t into video games, the story and action are what draws you into the intricate plot’s web, which engrosses you into the way it’s shot.
First person shooter is the best method to tell this particular story because it gives you a totally new experience. An experience that many argue will become the norm for moving making. Can you imagine going to see a film, putting on some glasses and being transported into a video game? Now that is a movie going experience!
If first person shooter is what captures your interest, then it’s the intricate plot that keeps it the entire time. Hardcore Henry does an excellent job of making you want to know what’s next. It doesn’t give you any rest. When a story is told as boldly as the plot of this movie, you don’t need rest because you want to know what the hell is going on. You know how some movies do too much, making you wonder when it’s going to be over? Not this one. Just when you think you know what’s going on, it hits you with a new piece of information or character.
Let’s talk about the characters. The most intriguing person in the film is not the title character but instead is his “friend” Jimmy played by Sharlto Copley. The antagonist Akon played by Danila Kozlovsky is also a dynamic character. They each give high-energy performances that help to carry the movie. The exposition along with the execution of their roles makes Hardcore Henry the joy it is.
Along with the action, there are comedic elements thanks to Jimmy’s antics. I will not give his sub-story away, but just know that when you think it’s over for him, think again. Lastly, Hardcore Henry is just as much a love story as it is a live-action video game. In the beginning, when Estelle tells him that she’s his wife, Henry latches on to her as the answer to any kind of normalcy he hopes to find. When that hope is taken from him thanks to Akon, Henry stops at nothing to get it back because to him she is the missing piece to finding out who he is. Adding the love component to the story makes it human. It connects with the audience because who doesn’t want love? Who wouldn’t go to the end of the world, with Henry’s fighting and survival abilities, to find out who they are?
There are a lot of pros to Hardcore Henry and all things considered, I cannot think of anything bad to say about the film. It is satisfying, it is intriguing, and it is different. Hardcore Henry is hardcore. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Film Review: ‘Hardcore Henry’
Reviewed in New York, April 5, 2016. (In Toronto Film Festival — opener.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 96 MIN.
PRODUCTION: A Versus Pictures production. Producers: Inga Vainshtein Smith, Ilya Naishuller. Executive producers: Will Stewart, Donald Tang, Jerry Ye, Robert Simonds, Karina Sinenko.
CREW: Director: Ilya Naishuller. Screenplay: Ilya Naishuller. Camera (color, widescreen): Pasha Kapinos, Fedor Lyass, Vsevolod Kaptur. Editor: Steve Mirkovich.
WITH: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth.