REVIEW: Hardcore Henry
Brodie's Grade: D
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Writer: Ilya Naishuller and Will Stewart
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett & Danila Kozlovsky
I like visually interesting films. I like action films. I'll even keep a special place in my heart for gimmicky films, as long as they work the gimmick, to make it worth the run-time. Unfortunately, Hardcore Henry is not a film that justifies even it's bare minimum feature run-time at just 90 minutes.
Hardcore Henry is a bold attempt to mimic the success of The Raid films, the Indonesian martial arts films that are non-stop action from the get-go, but frame it from the first person perspective. Basically it's a frantic video game. And it just doesn't work.
The gimmick wears thin quite fast, leading me to think it would have worked as a short-film, or probably did work in a proof-of-concept video presented to investors. After about 20-30 minutes, you're left feeling like you're waiting for your turn at the controller, and are just as bored.
But at least with video games there's a glimmer of hope that you're going to play, and the games are designed to keep your interest. I couldn't find any discernible story in Hardcore Henry. I think Henry was a prototype super-soldier. But he might not be. Or he is. Of course the Russian albino is evil, unless Henry isn't the prototype, in which case the Russian might not be bad. And the scientist isn't a scientist, but he is, and he's actually the prototype super-soldier?
Again, video games work. Movies work. Movies based on video games, but still definitely movies, work. Movies that are basically video games.... we now have proof that they don't quite work. There was no cohesive story to hold it all together that would have made the 90 minute run-time worth it. That would have made the mild motion-sickness worth it. That would have made the money spent worth it. But Hardcore Henry just couldn't follow through.
It scored a D instead of a solid F by the merit of Sharlto Copley (District 9, The A-Team), who somehow manages to barely hold the film together. Copley saw the sheer insanity of a film and went headfirst into it, much to his credit. Copley gives a pretty good performance that deserved a much better film.
I can't in good conscience recommend this one. If you're really, genuinely, super curious about the execution of a first-person action film, then check it out, but there are better action films out there (like the aforementioned Raid films) worth your time and money. I wouldn't even recommend this on DVD. It may show up on cable in a few years some Saturday afternoon after a baseball game... maybe watch it then, since you'll have the option to turn it off and not feel like money was wasted.