HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Hardcore Henry
HTS Overall Score:75
A first person point of view is NOT very common in both the book and the video world, but it HAS been done before. Although I can only think of short bits in a film, or sections of a movie really, as the point of view tends to be fairly limited in how the world is scene vs. a third party point of view, and the resulting shaky camera work associated with the filming style tends to be a bit nauseating at times. However in the video game industry a 1st person shooter is all the rage and has been for quite some time. For those of us who grew up playing 1st person shooters like “Call of Duty” and “Counterstrike” or what not, “Hardcore Henry” acts as a sort of bridge between the two very unique styles of entertainment. It’s not exactly high art, or even a great movie, but “Hardcore Henry” is the closest thing to a live action first person shooter and in more ways than one, and acts as a bloody entertaining romp for those of you who don’t suffer from motion sickness along the way.
The plot for “Hardcore Henry” is not exactly what I would “dense”. In fact it’s really almost nonexistent (like many of the more basic 1st person shooter games out there). All you know is that Henry (Andrei Dementiev) has just woken up from surgery after being turned into cyborg by his wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett), only to have her taken from him by a telekinetic mercenary by the name of Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) who is intent on stealing Henry’s technology and creating an army of super soldiers. Barely escaping with his life, Henry runs into a crippled man who uses an army of avatars (all played by Sharlto Copley) named Jimmy who seem to want to help him out. However the path to finding his wife isn’t going to be easy, and Henry has to gun his way through bad guy after bad guy as he slowly shortens the distance between himself and the psychotic Akan.
As I mentioned, “Hardcore Henry” plays out like a simple video game, with the viewer looking through the eyes of the naïve and confused Henry, and is then instructed bit by bit how to proceed. Jimmy acts as the all-powerful NPC who provides him with the next tidbit of information to get closer to his end goal, but it’s through the singular “player” that we see all of the chaos play out. Cyborgs, hookers, and tons of Jimmies oh my, and we’re on our way to a bloodbath of carnage, with Henry tearing up all of Russia in his vengeance filled quest to find his wife and destroy Akan. There’s a few shifts and turns along the way, with a twist near the end that most people can see coming a mile away, but “Hardcore Henry” is an energetic film (almost hyperactively so) and starts to really grow on you after a while.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75401[/img]I have to admit that using a 1st person point of view for the ENTIRETY of the film was a bit unique and intriguing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it used as the basis of an entire movie before, and I was a tad worried about the shaky cam that comes along with the filming style. While I had a bloody (literally) good time with the movie, my fears are also realized as there really is no way around some of the downsides. The camera movement was all recorded with Go-pro cameras strapped to Henry’s head and the filming style is frenetically shaky and hard to follow quite a bit of the time. Not to mention the fact that the constant movement and shifting directions really does a number on you if you’re even remotely sensitive to motion sickness. I am pretty resistant to the phenomenon and even I had a few bouts of uncomfortableness due to the motion.
“Hardcore Henry” doesn’t even TRY to be a good film, but revels in the style of the video game that it was designed around and rolls around in the filth of cheap action. The movie is pure unadulterated video game violence, with Henry blowing his way through scads of eastern European bad guys who attack from all directions and use all sorts of weapons. We have AK-47’s, grenades, his own fists and feet, along with all sorts of improvised tools of death and mayhem to survive the nonstop thrill ride. However, while it is certainly an intentionally bad film, “Hardcore Henry” doesn’t even try to fool the viewer into thinking that it is anything other than what it appears to be, and that is what makes the movie entertaining. Well, that and Sharlto Copley as the many iterations of Jimmy, as the African based actor has a complete blast with each of the crazy avatars that he plays throughout the film.
Rated R for non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75409[/img]Being that “Hardcore Henry” was shot using nothing but Go-pro cameras mounted on the stunt man’s head playing Henry, we are susceptible to a bit of a grungy looking film that is a bit smeary and not up to the quality standards that one would get with traditional digital cameras. Everything looks decent enough, with solid enough detail for a majority of the time, but the go-pros tend to look like we have a fish eye lens on at all times and warps the image around the edges as well as suffers from some macroblocking inherent to the source as well as smeary details that come and go. Colors are pretty bright and blacks are a bit spotty, but overall the encode itself is rather well done, but limited to the quality of the body cams used for the filming.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75417[/img]While the video is a bit lacking the audio is a full power, rock and rolling action track. Right from the get go we’re privy to some very detailed movements around the sound stage as Henry breaks out of the flying fortress that he wakes up in and the you can hear the bullets bouncing off of the surrounding walls and ricocheting off the bulkheads behind the listener. Or the rushing of the wind around Henry during free fall and the rocking Euro rock score that blasts from all directions in a cacophony of sound. LFE is tight and powerful, with a lot of heavy usage throughout the frenetic film, ranging from musical support to the thunderous assault from Henry’s never ending gun battles, to the crashing of a tank through the forest. It’s frantic, crazy and fully aggressive to the core, but a well done lossless experience.
• Deleted Scenes
• Fan Chat
• Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Ilya Naishuller
• Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Ilya Naishuller and Star/Executive Producer Sharlto Copley
“Hardcore Henry” isn’t about fantastic filmmaking. It is about the perspective of seeing through a mute heroes eyes and hanging on for dear life as he battles his way through wave after wave of video game style minions. It’s about chaos and insanity, barely able to slow down long enough to catch your breath. That simple fact limits the film in a way, but is still unique enough and goofily fun for a good watch. Sadly it’s not much for rewatch value, as the whole nature of the 1st person narrative tends to be rather gimmicky (something the film makers seemed to grasp and just milked the gimmick for all its worth) and “Hardcore Henry” is more style over substance and an effort in experimental filmmaking more than the next Oscar winner. Still recommended as fun rental if you like what you see in the trailer and want more. LOTS more.
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, Andrei Dementiev, Tim Roth
Directed by: Ilya Naishuller
Written by: Ilya Naishuller, Will Stewart
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 97 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Buy Hardcore Henry On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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