"Hardcore Henry" stars Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, and Tim Roth. Released on April 8, 2016, the film is about a man with no memory who goes on a violent rampage to rescue his wife from a telekinetic villain.
The film is written and directed by Ilya Naishuller, who is a frontman for the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows, and produced by Timur Bekmambetov. Originally titled Hardcore, the film premiered during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2015 and won the People's Choice Midnight Madness Award. The first time I heard about this film was from the trailer I watched while skimming through Youtube. I thought it looked like it was for a fan-made film, but it wasn't. What's interesting about it is how it is shot in a first-person point of view, meaning that you are the star of your own action film. The question is, will it be enough to reinvent the action genre? Well, I seem to think so…
The performances in this movie were passable. They're not entirely strong for an action film like this, but they're passable. There's no name for the actor who portray the title character, so I'm gonna assume that the audience is portraying him. (Hardcore Henry, starring you as Henry!) Henry is brought back to life by his wife (played by Bennett), but he has no memory of what happened and…he can't speak. Yep, you are a silent protagonist. Wonderful… And to make matters worse, a villain named Akan (played by Kozlovsky), who is apparently a long-forgotten sith lord from Star Wars, storms in and kidnaps Henry's wife. Now he has to fight his way to get her back, and by he, I mean you. I found Akan to be a forgettable villain, but he can be a pain in the butt to deal with, especially since he has telekinetic powers (that cheating scumbag…). Your only ally in this high-octane adventure is Jimmy (played by Copley). I can't tell you who he is without spoilers. All I can say is that he's unusually helpful. Like I said before, the film is shot in a first-person perspective, using a GoPro Hero 3 camera. I have a GoPro of my own, but I haven't used it that often. Naishuller used this unique filmmaking style for his music videos for Biting Elbows like "The Stampede". I thought it was pretty darn impressive. It's pretty much like a first-person video game without using the controller. It can be a bit nauseating, though, especially to those who are prone to motion sickness. Even though the first-person perspective might get a bit tiring by the third act, the action in this film is just the thing to keep you alive and awake. It's brutal, violent, and more importantly, entertaining. In fact, this might be one of the most violent films I've ever seen, which would explain the R-rating.
One of the flaws I had with this film was that the story seemed to be buried by the amount of action it had, leaving almost no room for character development. So people who enjoy story-driven action films will be left disappointed. I knew that this film was going to be filled with non-stop action and brutal violence, and it gave me that. The other flaw I had, without spoilers, was the abrupt ending. When the film ended, I was like, "Wait...that's it? We're done? OK…". It doesn't bring the film down that much, but abrupt endings are still my pet peeve when it comes to film reviewing.
Overall, "Hardcore Henry" is a thrilling experience that puts audiences into the heart of the action, literally. Despite its weak story and its abrupt ending, the film has enough hardcore action to satisfy most of the action junkies. It probably won't impress everybody due to its dizzying first-person filmmaking, but it was pretty satisfying imagining myself doing some insane stunts. If you're a fan of action films, but don't care much about the story and the characters, it's worth a watch. If you're prone to motion sickness, then skip it.