Hardcore Henry will be loved by some for the same reasons it will be hated by others. It is non stop adrenaline junkies’ fantasy that refuses to take a breath. The film is aware of its own strengths–gratuitous violence, and spends the vast majority of time on outrageous stunts and merciless deaths. What it lacks in story it makes up for in over the top action that feels fresh. If you have any inclination that you might like Hardcore Henry, then you probably will like Hardcore Henry. For the rest out there, time to put down the popcorn and pick up the Advil, its going to be one nauseating ride.
With no voice and no memory from his past, Henry sets out to save his wife from the evil Akan, who bares a striking resemblance to Alex from a Clockwork Orange. Henry is assisted on his journey by scientist and certified crazy person Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). Many will remember Copley from his role in District 9. Here he plays a charismatic contrast to Henry’s bland persona. Henry, limited to hand gestures, is a rather uninteresting protagonist but the film’s style and quick pace makes it hard to notice or care.
The film is shot entirely on a Go Pro, giving us a first person perspective through the eyes of Henry. The camera shakes uncontrollably when Henry runs giving your eyes a workout they never wanted. This novel style of filming is a technical wonder and helps distinguish itself amongst the abundance of action flicks. I just pray it never becomes the norm.
Hardcore Henry’s heart is racing 1000 beats per minute but the film’s soul is no where to be found. Henry is so thin on plot and character development you could mistake it for a hour and thirty minute trailer. The filmmaker refuses to compromise his vision which makes the film intentionally inaccessible to a wide audience. There is something to respect about that, right?
In a nut shell: Hardcore Henry never lets off the gas– giving you little time to think and more time to soak in the violence. And it is violent. The filming techniques allow us to watch Henry punch, stab and shoot his foes up close and gruesomely personal. The music’s intensity accompanies the violence to perfection. There is a lot wrong with the film, but if you can ignore its narrative shortcomings, you will have a good deal of fun. (2.5 out of 4)