Hardcore Henry is a Testosterone-Infused Thrill Ride that Doesn't Stop!
Hardcore Henry: “R” (106 min.)
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementyev, Dasha Charusha
Directed by: Ilya Naishuller
Like Nothing You've Ever Seen
Back in 2013 Ilya Naishuller had this crazy idea, to produce a cutting-edge wild, first person, POV video to prompte his band Biting Elbows; that four-and-a-half minute short — entitled Bad Motherf#%ker that video receives some four million hits and inspired not only follow-up videos, but spawned a much larger concept, the first full-length, feature film shot entirely on a GoPro from the point of view of the protagonist. That film is Hardcore Henry, and it is totally Fully Sik! Naishuller, a Russian, quite literally invented new tech so as to bring his amazingly cool, live-action, first-person shooter film to life and what we as viewers get is the most amazing advance in action cinematography that we’ve ever witnessed.
The story (such that it is) revolves around Henry, a cyborg who has just been brought online as the film begins (we get a couple of glimpses of Henry as a youth, from years prior to his reactivation as a ‘bot). As he wakes he is (re)introduced to his wife as she continues to re-attach his leg, arm and other body parts. However, before he can be properly acclimated to his new situation, the lab they are in comes under attack and his wife is kidnapped by a powerful warlord named Akan, who is in charge of army of mercs, and a plan for world domination. Now Henry is off on a madcap chase through the streets of Moscow as he attempts to rescue her.
Hardcore Henry Trailer
The Beauty of GoPro
The simple beauty of the POV/GoPro approach to this frenetic, action/adventure, death-race through Moscow is that it literally puts the viewer right in the middle of the action, succeeding on a fundamentally sub-atomic level where every single found footage film ever made fails. Found footage films fall far short of even the most rudimentary aspects of filmmaking as they require the audience to imagine that the cameraperson (even though they are frightened out of their mind and being chased by killer zombies, blood-thirsty creatures of the night, or vile creatures from the depths of hell) would pick up a camera and run in the dark while looking through the viewfinder. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. With the concept of the GoPro, we understand that we are looking through the actual eyes of the “cameraperson” and seeing what they see, as they see it. Hence — for the length of the film — we actually become Henry.
Henry's Wife, Estelle
You are the Star of This Film
So, now, as Henry, everyone around us — except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy — is trying to kill us. So as we rush through this unfamiliar city with Jimmy popping in and out of numerous clone bodies as he leads us through the city and watches our back. All we can think of is that if we are able to survive the insanity cycloning around us without getting our fine self killed, and (hopefully) solve the mystery of what is occurring, then we just might just discover our purpose as well as the truth behind our identity, and just why everyone seems to want to kill us.
Here comes Jimmy
Good Luck, Henry
Good luck, Henry. You’re likely going to need it…
Time to start the über-violence
A leap forward in Cinematography
Truthfully, on the down side, the camerawork is chaotic and often dizzying and could honestly become too much for some viewers. Also, in addition to the action guaranteed being faster paced and far more hectic than any of us are used to, it is also exceedingly violent (like a Tarantino film on speed, with a hulk-sized shot of testosterone, during a caffeine and coke-filled crack-addled, meth bender). Still, that is a really, relatively minor complaint, as this film hits the ground running and not only doesn’t let up but accelerates all the way through to the stunningly climatic conclusion.
A Stunning Achievement
This film is a stunning achievement and is well worth your time to go and see.