Hardcore Henry is Quite the RideApril 7, 2016
Hardcore Henry may seem like a strange premise: a movie that’s shot from the perspective of the main character, just like a first person shooter video game. When he punches someone, the audience sees his fist fly. He shoots someone? The audience sees where he’s aiming.
It’s crazy, right?
It’s crazy, but it actually kinda works.
This review does not contain spoilers.
Henry is an enhanced human. Suffering from battle damage (the details of which are never made clear) he wakes up in hospital as he’s being fitted with…well…upgrades.
But, like in all movies, it’s never that easy, and Henry is forced to traverse Eastern Europe on a mission, shooting, punching, and parkouring his way to the surprisingly satisfying conclusion of his adventure.
[image via www.nerdist.com]
Sharlto Copley plays Jimmy, a mysterious figure who appears to be helping Henry on his mission.
Sharlto Copley is a mad genius. His characterizations are brilliant, and it isn’t a stretch to say that his performance is the backbone of the film. Watching Henry in action is great, but Copley lends the film the gravitas it needs to move forward.
It isn’t a stretch to say that there are few actors that could’ve played Jimmy.
Copley has the aplomb to pull it off and he is one of the few. He is easily one of the most flexible and talented actors working today and Hardcore Henry is a tremendous platform showcase that.
As Estelle, Henry’s wife, Haley Bennett offers a deep emotional connection to Henry. Her warmth glowed and was captivating. But her character isn’t one note, and that’s probably the best part of her performance.
She’s also involved in arguably the most entertaining part of the movie, so she needs to be recognized for that, also.
As the Villain, Akad, Danila Kozlovsky, did all the right things: he sneered, threatened, and glowered, but offered nothing an audience hasn’t seen before.
Tim Roth has a very small, but meaningful role as Henry’s father, and nails it. He has one line (basically) and makes it about as memorable as it could be.
Credit need to go to the Hardcore Henry stunt team; the movie is a triumph for how it was filmed alone!
Performing amazing (and non cgi-enhanced!) stunts is difficult enough, but to have the focus to perform the stunt as required AND direct their visual attention to where the camera needed to focus is astounding.
The fight scenes were intense and brutal, and though they were occasionally difficult to follow because of the method of filming, were fun to watch.
Ilya Naishuller, the director, needs credit for trying something different.
Using stunt performers as cinematographers is a leap not many directors would take but in this case it pays off for Hardcore Henry
The story is simple, but the execution is not. Hardcore Henry is worth watching for the effort it took to make, alone.
But while the story is simple, that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining.
The middle dragged a little slightly, it feels as though the film would have benefited from a modestly shorter running time, but the final act more than made up for it. The last fight sequence was reminiscent of the first Transporter movie, with its unique and explosive fight scenes.
One point worth noting before watching: if you suffer from motion sickness, or disliked the shakiness of the camera in a film such as The Blair Witch Project, Hardcore Henry should be avoided. The movement of the camera is frantic and could cause you an unpleasant night out at the movies.
Hardcore Henry won the midnight madness award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and while it won’t win any awards for its story, if you go into it expecting to be entertained, you probably will!
I wouldn’t want every movie to be shot in this way, but Hardcore Henry was a heckuva lot of fun!
Featured Image via Geekz United [pikore.com/geekzunited]