"Hardcore Henry" Review
"Hardcore Henry" has a unique hook: this relentless, incredibly violent, sci-fi action extravaganza was shot almost entirely with GoPro cameras, and told completely from the first-person perspective of Henry - a half-man, half-machine.
Much like "Mad Max: Fury Road", "Hardcore Henry" relies heavily on wild, zany chaos and incredible stunts. And while I wasn't a huge fan of George Miller's one-note Australian outback saga, "Hardcore Henry" makes "Mad Max" feel like "Mary Poppins".
The problem is, this film is more of an “exercise” than a movie.
A cyborg with mechanical limbs and a power supply, Henry (whose face we only see once, late in the film) has the strength and juice to kill any enemy in his path. His only goal is to take out a ruthless, mad scientist bent on instilling havoc upon the world. Yes, the plot is as basic as you can get. Writer/director Ilya Naischuler (who shot the film in his native Russia) almost HAD to keep the story simple - to be able to showcase the style and technology.
However, the non-stop, brutal violence is consistently - and literally - in-your-face…and is just overwhelming. The editing techniques and shaky camera movements (because Henry is always on the run) make things even more insane, as you try, desperately, to keep up. The pace allows very little time to catch your breath - forcing you to stay glued at all times, because you’re experiencing EVERYTHING through the eyes of this one character.
Positives? The stuntwork is amazing; there’s one, very creative action scene; Sharlto Copley’s Jimmy, Henry's one, true friend, is a memorable character; and the first-person technique, in general, does work.
But all of this is overshadowed by the extreme level of utter mayhem, though I appreciate that many diehard action fans will enjoy watching someone get shot, stabbed, or beaten to death every-second of a 90-minute film.
Above all else, "Hardcore Henry" is an experience. There’s no denying that.