Disorienting But Fun Video Game action
Hardcore Henry (2016): A first-person action film from the POV of Henry, who's resurrected from death with no memory. He must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.
Man it feels good to be writing another review. It's been a while! Hi! Did you miss me? Probably not, but I sure missed this! So let's talk about Hardcore Henry. Hardcore Henry is a truly unique film. It's first person perspective does give us a glimpse into what the future of movie making could be, as this film was shot using mostly GoPros and yet it still looks pretty good. This kind of film wasn't even possible 5 years ago, and here we are watching it in feature-length film. I have to commend Ilya Naishuller and company for being willing to wade into uncharted waters on this. And, on top of that, the lore of this world is actually somewhat interesting! The world created by Naishuller, who also wrote the film, was legitimately interesting to me. The action was fun, though disorienting, and the novelty of the perspective was enough to keep me engaged for the brisk 96 minute film. All that said though.....this film's story is an absolute mess the moment you turn your brain on and try to think about it.
So, let's further praise this film's positives first. The first person perspective obviously dominates this film. But for the most part, coming from someone who does not get motion sickness, that's a good thing! I greatly enjoyed trying to figure out how this film was shot. There are moments in this film that had me completely baffled from a logistical perspective. And, for the most part, the action was engaging and fun. I also have to give props to Sharlto Copley. As much as this guy is a notorious pain to work with (seriously, watch some of the featurettes from The A-Team they're amazing on this front) he is a damn good actor, and it shows here. Yes he is screen-hogging to a freaking T but when you are ACTUALLY the only one on screen I guess it's ok.
But, this brings us to the story. The overall world is interesting here......UNTIL they start to explain things. When the curtain is finally pulled on Copley's character, I was even more confused than before. And the villain had literally no motivation for being bad at all. He was just evil for the sake of being evil. And Tim Roth? What the F is this guy's purpose??? I mean talk about the easiest pay check of your career. He has about 3 lines and that's it. And if I hadn't looked at IMDB I would have had NO idea how he was correlated to the rest of the story. Haley Bennett is also treated like dirt in this film as she is little more than a damsel in distress the entire time. And what's worse is the fact that her character is actually set up to be kind of badass but the filmmakers just decided to not go down that route. What a wasted opportunity.
All that said, I still enjoyed myself watching this film, but I recognize it has some serious limits. And I think a large part of why I enjoyed it is because I like video games. The target audience of this film is limited, but if you like sci-fi and video games, it's not one to be missed. This film is definitely destined for cult status.
The Critique: While it has a very unique style and was fun to watch, Hardcore Henry ultimately goes soft under a weak and underwhelming story.
The Recommendation: Into sci-fi? Video games? Than this is for you. If not? Avoid like the freaking plague.
The Verdict: 5/10 Average
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