“Hardcore Henry,” which releases to theaters nationwide on April 8, is unique in that it is the first action film shot almost entirely from a first-person perspective. And for a while, it’s actually quite fun. But, even for being just a tad over 90 minutes, there comes a time where this gimmick runs dry, and the viewer becomes rather bored with the whole thing.
The first-person perspective makes it so the viewer has the feel that he or she is Henry, and the fights and conversations almost reach a more personal level than they do in a lot of other movies. The character of Henry is never seen onscreen, save for one quick glimpse at a broken mirror. But with the lighting and the framing being tacked onto this brief moment, first-time director Ilya Naishuller makes sure the viewer doesn’t actually get to see who is portraying Henry.
Waking up in Moscow with no memory and no voice, Henry is greeted by his wife, Estelle (Haley Bennet), who then proceeds to attach some limbs to him, since he’s missing a few. She then gets kidnapped, and that’s when the action kicks in. Henry must now save his wife from Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a warlord with powerful mercenaries by his side and plans for world domination. The only person Henry can trust is a man named Jimmy (an intriguing Sharlto Copley).
That is basically the plot of “Hardcore Henry.” It’s simple and to the point. The characters are mostly one-dimensional figures that serve as objects for Henry to overcome.
With the way that Naishuller has setup his directorial debut, he makes “Hardcore Henry” a fun ride that the lack of character and story development can be forgiven. The action sequences, shot entirely with GoPros, place the viewer in the action and make it tense and exciting. That is until the film begins repeating itself with Henry meeting someone with important information who is then killed and a chase sequence ensues. If you’re going to make something unique, make it so the action scenes don’t feel like the same thing we just saw 10 minutes prior.
What makes matters worse is, after a certain point, “Hardcore Henry” still believes that people are enjoying the ride, and so it amplifies the craziness to a point where the film becomes unwatchable due to how much shakiness is on the screen. It’s the cinematic equivalent of chugging a six-pack of Red Bull and simultaneously chowing down on a case of Oreos. It may sound appealing, and you’ll feel energetic and ready for something exciting. But then the sugar crash plows into you like a semi-truck, and you’ll want to seek the nearest trash can.
Fathom Events Ultimate Fan Experience recap:
The Chico Movie Examiner received passes to a special showing of “Hardcore Henry,” which was presented via Fathom Events on Thursday, April 7. Those who attended the special showing were given a limited edition comic book that served as a prequel to the movie, as well as a special ticket that allowed them to enter a contest on social media.
Prior to the event starting, some behind-the-scenes facts and images were displayed on the screen. Some of the information included how many GoPros were used for the film, and where the inspiration for the movie came.
The event started with a brief Q&A with Naishuller and Copley answering questions fans submitted on social media. Some of the questions included how many GoPros were dropped in the process of filming and what the experience was like for Copley to work on the film.
Getting to know how the movie was made was a thrill to hear, especially for those who are into the aspects of filmmaking. But the movie itself is not as enjoyable as learning about what went on behind the scenes.
“Hardcore Henry” grade: D+