Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Tim Roth, Haley Bennett
A man named Henry finds himself on a plane with people trying to save him and some other people trying to kill him. With no memory, and no speech, he must navigate a series of terrains and come out on top. Oh, and he also has a couple of robotic limbs. Also, he runs on some sort of battery that he can charge through a port on his chest. So what were the events that led up to this? Who cares! It’s a half man half machine ripping apart everyone in his path!
Hardcore Henry borrows heavily from Crank but also tries to set itself apart. It is the lovechild of an orgy between GTA, Hitman, Crank, RoboCop, and a bunch of other things as well. It does not concern itself with minor details such as dialog and back stories and plunges headlong into an abyss of violence.
The best parts of the movie are the ones with no dialog. There is also a pale blonde Russian villain, who plans of creating an army of human robots. The villain, who seems to have learned his Russian from watching other villains with Russian accents, is over the top and unintentionally comical. He also knows telekinesis by the way. How, you ask? Doesn’t really matter. Also present here is Tim Roth who makes an appearance in a ‘don’t blink and you’ll still miss it’ role.
The film is basically a live action video game with rehashed concepts but unique execution. The novelty wears off quick. The quality of the action here is top notch; even if it is unnecessary at times. It is said as many as 10 different men essayed the stunts of Henry. The stunt team deserves the credit for carrying a very one-dimensional plot and still almost making it work. Watching the movie is a lot like playing a video game with a selfish friend who doesn’t want to share the joystick. As a result, you’re stuck watching him play for hours.
50 minutes into the film, we still know nothing about Henry. The intrigue created around him is stretched out and is reflective of lazy writing. Also, the fact that he has no voice and we don’t see his face creates a distance and leaves the viewer uninvested. He could be any lead video game character ever. A mere first person action based bullet and gore fest is not enough to make a 1 and half hour long movie stick together.
But thanks to Hardcore Henry, we now we know that the action movie may not be the same again. This might be remembered as one of the first few action films to take the path less taken, that of the first person shooter. Sadly, it squanders what was a golden opportunity.
Gopro cameras are used liberally here and the results are interesting, despite being disorienting after a while. The parkour based foot chases are one of the very few high points in the movie.
The first half aimlessly tries to establish the locale and the major dramatic question. The second half catches your attention as it picks up momentum.
With an absent protagonist, a lot of the movie relies on reactions to Henry. Starring in the role of Henry is a pair of hands. This gives people such as myself hope that I may also be a lead in a movie someday.
Set to pulsating music, the chase sequences are the main draw here and oddly immersive despite the lack of a coherent narrative to tie them together. The film is less of a movie and more of an exhibition of the prowess of the action directors and stunt coordinators, and a lot of freestyle running.
It’s almost like someone saw a video game and thought of doing the exact same thing, but with real people and even lesser emotions. There are customary sidekicks , missions signified on maps and a lot of slow walking as well.
We recommend waiting for someone to upload a montage of all the best sequences of the movie on YouTube and just watching that. But if you do go, you’ll be witness to possibly the foundation of a whole new kind of action movie.