Hardcore Henry (2016) Movie Review: Sex, Guns, Explosions, and Shaky Cam

By: Reel 127 (Three Beers) –

Hardcore Henry falls into a similar category as Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. A video game movie not actually based on a video game. Hardcore Henry takes on the aspects of a first-person shooter style video game, which apparently was worth warranting the guy at the ticket window having to give me a motion sickness warning when I purchased a ticket.

Hardcore Henry is the story of Henry, a man who has to be rebuilt as part robot in order to stay alive. His wife is kidnapped by a super-powered villain and Henry must go save her. Along the way he meets Jimmy, a man who tries to help Henry with his goals but can’t seem to stop dying. The film is written, directed, and produced by Ilya Naishuller, the frontman of the Russian band “Biting Elbows.” One of their music videos “Bad Motherfucker” actually serves as a precursor to Hardcore Henry and I highly recommend you check it out. No really, I can wait a few minutes.

In case you didn’t feel like opening another tab I saved you the trouble.

A Toast

The first person genre of film isn’t very big. A quick search on Wikipedia shows less than thirty films (excluding found footage) that were made with a first person POV. So it’s an idea that hasn’t been explored too much outside of horror. After seeing Hardcore Henry I wouldn’t be surprised if more action films try out the first person style in the future. It actually helps to add a little more immersion in the film since you begin to feel like you are Henry in some scenes.

The soundtrack is really fun for this movie; I doubt you will find a movie that plays such a range of songs such as “My Girl,” “Don’t Stop Me Now,” and (for some reason) “The Magnificent Seven Theme.” I also appreciate that even though the film is influenced by shooter video games the most it does to directly reference a single game is a poster on a wall. This isn’t a parody or tribute, there are just several points in the film where you can go, “Yeah, I’ve seen a game do that before.” The most notable reference is how Henry holds weapons on screen. The action scenes are really well choreographed and in some ways this film does action scenes better. Though there is a lot of movement, it is easier to follow than the quick cuts that have plagued action films of late.

Beer Two

Remember how much you liked Deadpool? How even though it fell into some cliches you still enjoyed it because the character was entertaining? Henry is the exact opposite of Deadpool because he never speaks, not once. So when the cliches in this movie come up they become a bit more glaring on a first watch than Deadpool. There are even similar beats. Guy gets superhuman abilities, girlfriend is kidnapped by villain, guy goes to fight villain to save girlfriend. You get the idea. From these cliches the direction the film is going becomes rather predictable.

Beer Three

I think I cared more about Henry’s friend Jimmy. Jimmy was played by Sharlto Copley, best known for playing Wikus in District 9. When your main character isn’t the character the audience roots for, then you might have a problem with your movie. There’s nothing wrong with making good supporting characters. But when your supporting characters get more development, more lines, and a better story arc then you might need to do some re-writes.

district 9 wikis

Still way more likable than this jerk.

Verdict

Hardcore Henry, despite the flaws, is a very fun movie. Batman vs. Superman is an action film trying to be an epic drama and that’s why it doesn’t work. Whereas Hardcore Henry knows it is an action flick so it works, because it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. It doesn’t take long for new action sequences to start because it knows that’s what the audience is there to see. I would say this goes above the standard “popcorn flick” because you don’t have to turn your brain off to enjoy it. Hardcore Henry is fast-paced action that is a great alternative to the recent slew of bad movies.

3beers

Hardcore Henry (2016) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: whenever Henry starts fighting off henchmen

Take a Drink: every time Jimmy dies

Take a Shot: when Jimmy dies for real

Take a Drink: every time the movie reminds you of a video game

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