Hardcore Henry snuck up on us quietly. At least, it snuck up on me. I didn’t hear much about it until I caught the trailer. Let me tell you, that trailer was like Crank but you know, in a video game where you just take a seat, take a deep breath and survive. We have video games that are becoming more of a cinematic experience, so why not change the movie viewing experience into a video game experience especially when its in first person shooter.
Let’s check it out!
Hardcore Henry (2016)
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kovlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth
A first-person action film from the POV of Henry, who’s resurrected from death with no memory. He must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.-IMDB
I was excited for Hardcore Henry. I mean, how can you not, if you remotely love adrenaline rush sort of games? The trailer was done perfectly to do a movie not taking it too seriously but in first person perspective and making it feel like we were in the action. Except, on the way to the movie, I started thinking of doubts and what could make Hardcore Henry not work. What if they took themselves too seriously? What if the story itself isn’t done well? You know, those questions. But I had a feeling and I decided to push it away and try to stay positive. After all, I wanted to enjoy this movie and that it was going to be a game-changer for the movie industry. My expectations weren’t set high mostly because I wasn’t sure what to expect except having fun.
I want to say that I enjoyed Hardcore Henry. I really do. Let me break down this movie for you. The first 30 minutes was a new experience and fun to learn about what was going on, getting connected with the situation and the characters and learning what the situation was. There was chase scenes and some tension and it was pretty good with a few laughs even. Then the second portion came around and this was a lot of the same thing going on as they chase around from one location to the next in Russia and it just dragged on. We saw some more of characters we saw from the first part, Jimmy (played by Sharlto Copley), the wife Estelle (Hayley Bennett) and the villain, Akan (Danila Kovlovsky). In many ways, Hardcore Henry feels like Crank except its hard to care about the on screen character. The story is really simple but its just set up in a weird way [maybe this part is spoiler so highlight to read it] where its like people who die aren’t really dead? Eventually Jimmy coming back in his various forms just got a little boring and felt like padding. [end of spoilers]. And then the finale is where we get the adrenaline rush again and the story fights to be closed and this attempts to step it up a notch except even that isn’t enough to make up for the momentum its lost. Its fairly apparent where the story would go so even the ending didn’t quite have the impact it was looking for.
Rest assured though, Hardcore Henry does have its good features. My favorite part of it was the music and the soundtrack. I helps to pump up the action scenes and fill up the space with no dialogue because our character can’t talk. The best parts are mostly in the trailer music that they used. Plus, Tim Roth makes an appearance and I just love the man a lot. Hardcore Henry has some nifty stunts and the action scenes are decent even if they were with a GoPro sort of device.
Overall, Hardcore Henry was the first to put a novel idea into action except what started as a good concept falls apart in a overly simple storyline and lack of character that we could care about. While there is some nice stunts and fantastic music, the thrill of the chase looses its momentum in the second act and never really picks up. Hardcore Henry would probably be much better as a short film, expanding on what the trailer had or simply as a feature film with a much better script. First person shooter styles are still something that I’d look forward to seeing other filmmakers expand on in the future but Hardcore Henry will not be the one that prove that it works.
Have you seen Hardcore Henry? What did you think?