Director: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementyev, Dasha Charusha, Sveta Ustinova, Tim Roth
Runtime: 1 hr 36 mins
Rating: R21 (Violence and Gore)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: http://www.stxmovies.com/hardcorehenry/
Opening Day: 14 April 2016
Synopsis: Strap in. HARDCORE HENRY is one of the most unflinchingly original wild-rides to hit the big screen in a long time. You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife (Haley Bennett). She tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan (Danila Kozlovsky); he’s a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. Everyone except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). He may be on your side, but you aren’t sure. If you can survive the insanity, and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity. Good luck, Henry. You’re likely going to need it…
You wake up in a lab and is addressed as “Henry” by a beautiful lady who then fits you with bionic body parts she tells you she is your wife and you both love each other deeply. Next thing you know, your wife is being kidnapped by a bunch of thugs who wants to steal your cyborg technology/capability. Your mission is to beat the living daylights out of everyone who stands in the way of you rescuing your wife.
Sounds like the background of a first person slash-and-kill game doesn’t it? Except this is a movie and you don’t press the “start” button to commence the game. Your only form of interaction or participation in this “game” is sit back and watch the action unfold from Henry’s perspective as he slashes, shoots, bombs and pretty much demolishes anything that gets in his way of getting his wife back.
And after a while, it gets pretty boring as well as nauseating to watch Henry do all that. Yes, the execution of tightly choreographed action sequences is amazingly slick and quite awe-inspiring (how does a man so precisely catch a grenade and throw it into a hatch the spilt second before it explodes is baffling) but imagine watching a 1 hour long parkour video captured with a Go-Pro camera. I’m pretty sure some people will need barf bags on standby for that. Unfortunately, that results in the movie’s strength- its brilliantly executed intense action sequences becoming a double-edged sword that can both exhilarate and also torment audiences.
Action sequences aside, there’s little going for this movie. The plot is thin and you don’t really feel anything for the main characters because you simply don’t get a chance to bond with them. Henry doesn’t have much of a memory which results in you knowing little about him. His wife, Estelle, is gone pretty quickly and you don’t get to see her much throughout the movie. Ditto her kidnapper, Akan. Jimmy, Henry’s partner/friend for this journey, appears in different forms with different personalities and dies pretty quickly each time, rendering the audiences unable to pin down who Jimmy really is and what he is like as a human being. Not enough is explored of any of the characters and you simply can’t relate to them. Unlike Kill Bill and Mad Max: Fury Road where the characters have moments or make decisions that show their humanity, Henry is merely a reticent killing machine who is programmed to stop at nothing to save his wife and bring her back home.
The other selling point of the movie, being one told from a first-person perspective, is really nothing new nor exciting. Robert Montgomery got there first in as far back as 1947 with his noir thriller Lady in the Lake. More recently, Gasper Noe’s 2009 psychedelic tour of life, Enter the Void, adopted a first-person perspective with much more effectiveness (with less head spinning and nausea-inducing results too).
Hardcore Henry is essentially a first-person shooter-bomber-fighter-killer videogame, without the player having the option of playing the game, thinly disguised as a movie. Sure, it has great action sequence but unless you are a gamer who actually only like to sit back and watch the action unfold without actually playing the game or an action junkie who just likes to soak up fight sequences, this is unlikely the
game movie for you.
(Go watch this only if you are a fan of “Let’s Play!” videos without the commentaries. But do prepare a barf bag)
Review by Katrina Tee