Review - Hardcore Henry
By midlandsmovies, Aug 11 2016 03:28PM
Hardcore Henry (2016) Dir. Ilya Naishuller
A first-person perspective film expanded from the director’s music video using the same technique, Hardcore Henry is a 90 minute action-fest for the video game generation. A “plot” sees the protagonist Henry attempting to regain his memory after he wakes up with his body in ruins and his wife filling in the gaps. A Robocop-inspired intro sees Henry being fitted with advance prosthetic limbs before a Bourne-style chase ensues. This forces him to run, jump and fight his way across city streets and transport, eventually taking on a variety of hit squads, vehicles and guys with guns.
Very much unlike the Maniac remake which got into the mind of a killer using a first-person filming technique, Hardcore Henry has almost zero-characterisation and we barely get to know the lead. Only during a fleeting shot at the film’s conclusion do they even show who this man is. One could argue this is to project ourselves onto him but in all honesty I think this may be giving the film far too much credit. What it does do however is very much in the style of Crank. Sadly without the draw of a Statham-alike to give the silly idea some cheesy action-hero oomph! Like that movie, Henry is pursued at high speed relentlessly throughout the film’s run time and for those looking for depth you will not find it here.
There is still much to enjoy though. The violence was suitably over-the-top and generally creative, an excellent and campy Sharlto Copley gets multiple characters to inhabit – including the delivery of a song and dance number – and the stunt work is superb. I never suffer with motion sickness in film but I suspect the point-of-view perspective (‘head cam’) may not be to everyone’s taste. There is simply an absence of characters and the plot is as thin as a cyclist’s Highway Code. What worked well in a 3-minute online video struggles to fill out a full feature BUT I enjoyed the risks it took despite its flaws.
Like Unfriended, which used a computer screen to tell a narrative, I was pleased to see a film taking new technology to the cinema.
Is it completely successful? Not by a long chalk. Is it lots of guilty fun? Much more than I’d care to admit.
Midlands Movies Mike