2016 – After being resurrected as a cyborg, Henry must unlock the secrets of his forgotten past to save his wife (Haley Bennett) from a telekinetic villain and an army of super-soldiers.
This is it, people. This isn’t just an action movie. This is THE action movie.
Filmed entirely in first-person, Hardcore Henry takes the action film and refines it to its purest possible state, free from such tedious accouterments as “plot” and “characters.”
Let’s face it: we’ve had to endure hundreds of plots and thousands of characters in our pursuit of pure thrills. We’ve had to sit through lame romantic interludes when we just want to see arms being broken. We’ve had to endure dull exposition and backstory when all we craved was cars exploding. Hardcore Henry tells us we don’t really need any of that. All we need is a gun and a GoPro.
Characters? Why do we need characters? We might as well be Henry ourselves – he awakens in a strange place with no memories and no idea what’s going on. Within five minutes we know who the villain is (a metrosexual albino douche! KILL HIM!) and we know what our motivation is (hot wife kidnapped! SAVE HER!). And then we’re off on a 90-minute journey that’s 90% gunfights, fistfights, car chases, foot races, and more. “Relentless” doesn’t begin to describe it.
Events play out like a video game. After each battle or chase, Henry’s mysterious buddy Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) shows up or calls with a new mission. Brief interludes akin to cut-scenes fill us in on details we might need, and the action spikes with more challenging “boss fights” against bad guy Akan’s (Danila Kozlovsky) increasingly powerful henchmen.
Despite the brutal violence and relatively grim story line, Hardcore Henry doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are moments of genuine humor, made even better because they’re so unexpected. You can tell that, behind all the carnage, the filmmakers had a genuine enthusiasm for this project and are getting a lot of enjoyment out of making it.
I know what the faint of heart are wringing their hands over: will the camerawork be too jittery? Will I get a headache? Will I get sick? If you experience a moment’s hesitation due to these issues, don’t go. Not because you’ll get sick (I was so enthralled that, after the first five minutes, I didn’t even notice the first-person perspective), but because you’re obviously not ready for a movie like this. There’s a reason the word “hardcore” is in the title.
Catch it in theaters while you still can, because this is an experience that needs the big screen.
It also features the best in-movie use of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” this side of Shaun of the Dead.