Review by Lauryn Angel
Watching Hardcore Henry is a lot like watching someone else play a first-person shooter like Doom or Call of Duty. The movie was filmed almost entirely with a GoPro camera helmed by director Ilya Naishuller, resulting in a first-person perspective of the carnage left behind by the titular character. The story features several video game staples – Henry leaves a high body count, loots his victims for both weapons and power packs, and receives instructions on his phone that move him along to the next plot point (and I’m using that term generously). He even receives instructions from another character that are reminiscent of a video game tutorial: “Try throwing a grenade down there.” As anyone who has watched another person play a video game knows, watching the game is not as much fun as playing it, and the first-person perspective, while an interesting idea, becomes more and more jarring throughout the film.
A strong plot, however, could make up for the nausea-inducing, shaky camera work. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t have much of one. Henry wakes up in a lab, where his wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett), is putting him back together. Henry has no memory of who he is, but Estelle assures him they are happily married and explains that she has put him together after a terrible accident. Just as she is about to restore his voice, the lab is attacked by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a telekinetic albino crime lord who kidnaps Estelle and starts Henry on his quest. Henry is quickly joined by Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), a mentor who dies repeatedly and reappears with a different persona each time. For much of the movie, there is very little explanation of what’s going on, and when the film concludes after 90-minutes, there are still quite a few unanswered questions.
What saves the movie, though, is Copley’s performance as Jimmy. Copley plays the variations of Jimmy with aplomb – each version is unique and equally entertaining. The less said about Jimmy, the better, as it’s best to let the viewer experience him through Henry.
Despite it’s rather weak plot, Hardcore Henry is entertaining, and the action is pretty-much non-stop. If films like Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project made you feel queasy, then you might wait for the DVD release. Otherwise, Hardcore Henry is worth checking out.
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