Review: Hardcore Henry

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An ultra-violent action film shot entirely from a first person perspective, Hardcore Henry blurs the line between video game and movie as far as possible.

What did I just witness?? My eyes actually hurt after that.

Henry wakes within a high tech laboratory were his wife reassembles him with a bionic arm and leg, only moments later is the lab attacked by terrorists who kidnap her. Now it is up to Henry to get her back!

I am all for watching unique experiences in film, I like to see these strange experiments and whether or not they work. Straight off the bat someone would know if they are at all interested: Hardcore Henry is shot in a first person perspective, as in, the camera is singular and mounted to the head of the protagonist so we the audience feel at the centre of the action. Hardcore Henry is a gory, brutal (maybe even hyper-violent, given its gimmick) action film and deserves its 18 certificate. You see vicious stabbings, shootings and executions up close… and as the film intended, it appears as if you committed them.

Henry is even mute, after his rebirth as a cyborg he conveniently cannot talk, further cementing this film’s intentions on mimicking a video game. Naturally, this is hotly controversial; the film not only channeling violent movies but hopping into bed with the likes of the Call of Duty video games. I can hear the ramifications of this already.

Who could possibly make this a reality? This is the sort of action Michael Bay can only dream of. A debut director and produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the director of the insane vampire action movies Night Watch and Day Watch.

It is ridiculous, a pure shot of testosterone and adrenaline. Shot from a guy’s perspective, this is the quintessential “guy movie”. Henry even winds up in a strip club… of course. It is over ninety minutes of pure action; one continuous action sequence were bad guys are literally around every corner like an old arcade shooter! You will find your retinas burning from intensely watching… and you’ll feel the dazed disorientation when you walk out of the theatre. There is an awful lot of shaky-cam… in fact the nature of the experience means it is ALL shaky-cam. So beware.
The film cannot stop this roller-coaster pace. If it did it would instantly collapse with its vaporous story and mute hero.

The film possibly has the best use of actor Shartlo Copley, who plays Jimmy, a man who seemingly does not die despite being seen murdered in multiple different ways! Yes, think of Kenny from television’s South Park. He plays multiple personalities, different each time Henry encounters him, from a hippy, a punk to a British WW2 soldier. Surreal, but added a great comedic tint that isn’t just riotous black comedy as we toss a man head first into a spinning fan to turn him into a shower of gore.

Oh, and the villain appears to be a telekinetic blonde Tommy Wiseau… Huh?

Is it a good film? No. But it is an experience like none other. If you cannot stomach intense gore and violence nonstop, or shaky cam nonstop, you probably shouldn’t watch this. But for the first ever “POV” movie, it was senseless violence but really good fun.

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Additional Marshmallows: The director, Ilya Naishuller, was responsible for a music video in 2013: “Biting Elbows – Bad Motherfucker” which is filmed in exactly the same fashion.

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