Director : Ilya Naishuller
Writer : Ilya Naishuller
Stars : Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth
Release year : 2016 (imdb)
Hardcore Henry is a FPS feature film. By this I mean it is entirely shot from a first-person perspective, has anemic character development, but features spectacular action sequences.
Briefly, this movie follows the titular character Henry as he battles endless hordes of baddies, aided by the resourceful sidekick Jimmy to rescue his wife Estelle from the evil telekinetic übermensch Akan.
We first see Henry waking up in an airship laboratory, with his wife doing some quick exposition. A gang of what appears to be mercenaries raids the airship and kills the scientists abroad. Henry and Estelle escape in a pod, but Estelle is kidnapped shortly after. From there on, the story devolves in a generic FPS, with all that this entails.
Directed by Biting Elbows’ frontman Ilya Naishuller, Hardcore Henry is an elongated version of his similar Bad Motherfucker music video. And while the music video was fun to watch, the feature is just a drag. The idea to film in first-person sure looks exciting and promises an immersive experience to the viewer, but it is quickly reduced into a mere gimmick, a drawn out vertiginous gimmick. There is no characterization for the hero, except for a lame and cliched flashback; and this makes the task of identification difficult if not impossible for us, which leads to a gradual sense of disinterest. The story writing is lazy and uninspired, to the point of having a supporting character reduced to a NPC, and at one point shamelessly telling the main character “Go there! You’ll find more guys to kill” (of course I’m paraphrasing, but you get the idea). The acting is average with the notable exception of Sharlto Copley who gets to play a versatile role and does it rather good.
However, if you’re in for the ass kicking, you won’t be disappointed. Some (most of in fact) action sequences are breathtakingly well done. The stunts feel real. The punches seem to hurt. And at times you feel the team went through dangerous situations to get some of the takes.
This movie is no masterpiece. It is a fairly entertaining piece of cinema nonetheless, specifically made for FPS aficionados.