One out of Five
“Hardcore Henry” takes a “what if” idea and runs with it straight into a complete train wreck.
The “what if” comes from the filming style of the movie. “Hardcore Henry” is shot entirely in first-person. You see everything from Henry’s point of view and nothing else.
It’s a cool idea that works for about 30 minutes; after that the nausea, headache and general motion-sickness comes in. You start to crave some stillness in the movement of the camera, and ultimately, the end of the visual onslaught.
It’s also the only intriguing aspect of the film; everything else is uninspired, including the plot.
We follow Henry as he awakes from death, reborn as a sort of cyborg with mechanical parts in addition to his flesh and bone that make him live. His wife, Estelle, (Haley Bennet) is the one who brings him back. Unfortunately, Akan, (Danila Kozlovsky) an evil somebody that’s never really explained, kidnaps her. So Henry’s more than just a little ticked off, he’s coming after Akan. Henry also gets help from a mysterious man named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who keeps popping up to help or save Henry at just the right time.
In video-game style, Henry is given task after task as a step-by-step instruction on how to save his wife that work like levels, with each one more difficult than the last. The filming is similar to a first-person shooter game as Henry fights with guns, fists, knives and everything in between. The special effects and scene locations also have a video game feel.
But there is nothing that holds the film together. The characters are one-dimensional and have no substance. And you feel no connection to your lead character because you never see him. The story is there because it has to be, not because it’s the driving force. The endless fight scenes make “Hardcore Henry” just a long YouTube video of someone playing a game.
The movie feels like it was made by a group of teenage boys who got together and said, “Dude, wouldn’t it be cool if … ” and then no one told them to stop. No one told them to stop when the first-person perspective got to be too much. No one told them to stop when the fight scenes and blaring rock music got to be too much. And absolutely no one told them to stop when they put in way too much over-the-top violence that’s just in there to make moviegoers squirm in their seats.
It’s possible hard-core gamers might enjoy “Hardcore Henry,” but for everyone else it would be far more enjoyable to watch someone play a first-person shooter game or join in on the game yourself.