Henry is resurrected from death with no memory, and he must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementiev, Dasha Charusha, Sveta Ustinova
Rated: R (non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use)
By Cole Schneider
In the world of modern cinema there is something to be said for finding a unique experience and if it does nothing else—and it most assuredly offers nothing else—“Hardcore Henry” is unique among theater-going experiences. The movie is shot on a head-mounted Go-Pro and features some genuinely impressive shots (it’s also important to note that it has some very cheap, unrefined shots leading this viewer to wonder if maybe it was rushed onto screens too soon).
The problem is that the characters in these shots, the story these characters find themselves inside of, and the completely void purpose behind these shots reinforce the gimmickry of the Go-Pro. It quite literally feels like you’re watching someone else play a bad video game for an hour and a half. Even if it wasn’t set to a loud soundtrack, didn’t beg for laughs with unrelenting and unfunny sardonic humor, and didn’t enough shaky-cam violence to make you puke, it would still have a story that has absolutely zero coherence or points of interest. Truly, if it were the video game it was meant to be it would be a terrible video game. It is likewise a terrible movie.
I do expect “Hardcore Henry” to make a slight cultural impact. While it’s not going to be “Fight Club”, “Friday the 13th”, or “Pulp Fiction”, I won’t be surprised if this is a favorite among 22 year-old frat boys ten years from now. But since those kids are 12 right now, you may understand the inherent infantilism in this movie. (I hope this isn’t demeaning or pretentious; I still think stuff like “Face/Off” is tons of fun!)
1.5 out of 5 Stars
By Matt Greene
Hardcore Henry, like 10 Cloverfield Lane, is a big 2016 sci-fi directorial debut. But where Cloverfield portrayed a confident greatness beyond its filmmaker’s experience, Henry opts to obnoxiously rely on being “different” rather than being good. A largely nonsensical headache of a movie, it should’ve been called Loudcore Henry (loud volume, loud performances, loud plot, and loud twists). Dripping with relentless noise and chaotic combat, it’s more of a sleeper-hold than a round-house kick, simulating white noise over thrilling filmmaking.
As one of the first films told entirely from first-person perspective, we experience Henry’s mysteriously bad and villain-filled day through his eyes. While the movie gets some credit for being unique, it’s mostly just disorienting, both in form and in content. The plot is a slap-dash collection of twists, both cliché and confusing, covered in lazy attempts at humor and tonally unfocused music. Even the action, clearly the film’s selling point, is so extremely violent and decadent that it misses its target of being bold and lands closer to being reckless.
Nonetheless, many of those set-pieces are fairly propulsive, especially the marquee hotel scene. Unfortunately, with great movies like Dredd and The Raid covering this area, all that’s left with Henry is that first-person POV, and eventually you wonder if that gimmick becomes more of a hindrance than an asset, confusing otherwise interesting action through a hectic lack of focus. Just because your movie looks and feels like a first-person shooter doesn’t mean it should have the brain of a pre-teen gamer. Maybe I’m getting old, but watching someone else play a C-level video game for 90 minutes is not my idea of entertainment.
1.5 out of 5 Stars