Hardcore Henry (REVIEW)
written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Like a video game movie without a video game, Hardcore Henry lives up to the trailers giving movie goers a first person perspective peek into a story of retribution and nonstop action from start to finish.
Hardcore Henry follows the perspective of the titular Henry, you wake up from seemingly being dead and brought back to life complete with new limbs courtesy of your scientist wife Estelle (Haley Bennett). Shit hits the fan immediately when the movie’s main baddie Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a platinum blonde megalomaniac with seemingly telekinetic powers, raids the lab and eventually kidnaps Estelle. This starts Henry’s quests to find his wife and take down Akan.
Joining Henry is Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), a character that seems to pop up all over the town despite dying in some of the most graphic ways. Unlike other big budget films, Hardcore Henry benefits from having a much smaller cast of characters; especially with the silent protagonist in Henry (who was played by a number of camera men and stunt men) being the pillar of this small cast.
The comparisons between Hardcore Henry and first person shooter video games are littered all over the entire film. Despite being obviously gimmicky, this never got old and the entire experience was a fun-filled adrenaline-fueled ride from start to finish. Exciting action sequences, some genuinely funny dialog courtesy of NPC-esque Jimmy, and a soundtrack that hit all the right notes make for a fun ride.
While fun, the film lacked some very real substance. It played out more like a feature length music video than a film telling the story of a nuanced character. Your motivation is simple to be honest, find your wife, but the circumstances that lead you down that path are rarely expanded upon. Unfortunately they never fully flesh out Akan’s backstory or why he’s trying to build an army of unstoppable cyborgs. While arguably the lowest point of Hardcore Henry was the lacking narrative, it was honestly made up for with the entire film’s action sequences.
Like a fun ride, the lack of a story won’t be a problem if you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Hardcore Henry is like your favorite candy bar, while it does satisfy at the most primal level it wouldn’t be a substantial meal.
Come for the action sequences, revel in the unique perspective, and just enjoy the ride. If you can keep this in mind, I’m sure you’ll find something to like about Hardcore Henry.