Shot exclusively on location in Moscow, Russia, Hardcore Henry has the distinction of being one of the first movies ever to be filmed as a first-person shooter game. The whole entire film is seen through the eyes of Henry, a cop who has been killed but brought back to life as a cyborg, so to speak. Thanks to ingenious technology and his lovely scientist wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett), Henry has a slew of new features and weapons to exact his revenge on Akan (Danila Kozlovsky). The remainder of this 93 minute film is Henry in the world as he sees it, eliminating anyone who gets in his way of revenge. This is an ambitiously directed film, I must say. Some of it works and some of it is just too plain silly.
Sharlto Copley is Jimmy, the creator of some of the hardware that fuels Henry and one of Henry’s few friends. As a series of Avatars, Jimmy shows up just when Henry needs him most and disappears after Henry is resupplied. The rest is all Henry and he is hardcore, for sure. This is an exceedingly violent film. People are butchered, skewered, crushed, blown up, dismembered, electrocuted, shredded with enough body parts left to be served up in a petri dish. Not much is left alive in Hardcore Henry. Still, as I watched this film a general sense of macabre humor began to infect me and soon I just started laughing and marveling at the sheer audacity of this film. It reminded me a bit of The Brothers Grimsby earlier this year with Sacha Baron Cohen and Mark Strong playing very different brothers involved in an espionage plot. it was pure and utter nonsense but infectiously fun, but not much more.
Hardcore Henry features one action set piece after another that is kinda fun, but then takes itself a little too seriously with a song and dance number featuring Copley. It also show Akon to be able to move matter without touching anything. He is able to toss Henry around like a ragdoll through most of the film but, it is never really explained where Akon gets this power from so it will leave you scratching your head. At least it did me, anyway. There is not much left to the imagination in Hardcore Henry, but the locales of Russia are impressive and most of the action is as funny and over the top as it is grisly. Darya Charusha has a dual role as a leather clad, dominatrix hitgirl as well as the composer of Hardcore Henry’s score which seems to fit the carnage well.
The acting is sufficient but no one is reaching for the stars on this one. Hardcore Henry is not that kind of film. I would classify this as an experimental film, sort of, as it was originally based on a short film directed by the same director, Ilay Naishuller. Here, he has the budget to fulfill his vision which is fun to a point, but even at 93 minutes, Hardcore Henry for all of its high energy action, seems to wear out its welcome. Think Universal Soldier, Robocop and throw in a dash of the Terminator and that gives you an idea of what film Hardcore Henry is. This is not for the squeamish and one has to be in the mood to savor what you can from this film. Henry is Hardcore and very odd, too.
Hardcore Henry – ** 3/4 out of 5
Hardcore Henry – Rated R for gore, strong graphic violence, nudity, harsh language and adult situations
Hardcore Henry – Run Time is listed at 97 minutes, BUT the credits start at 93 minutes.
Hardcore Henry is now available on DVD and On Demand.