Film Review: Hardcore Henry

Enjoy video games? POV first-person shooters? Action movies? Unbelievable movie-going experiences?  Being a part of something completely different and revolutionary for the cinematic art medium? Having a good time? A really really good time? Then Hardcore Henry is undoubtedly a movie for you. 

Playing more as a virtual reality experience than anything else, Hardcore Henry is the first ever POV action film where the audience doesn’t miss a beat as Henry; a resurrected human turned robotic super human man who climbs walls, falls out of buildings, jumps, runs, kicks, shoots and his way to save the woman he loves, Estelle (Haley Bennett), from a telekinetic super baddie Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) who is out to release his own army of Henry wannabes and uses Estelle’s and Henry’s technology against themselves. That’s pretty well it for narrative, but Hardcore Henry is not about story, heck, it isn’t even about redemption. Hardcore Henry is unlike you have ever seen on the big screen and is mostly about tantalizing every single sense in your body. The film is a go, go, go adrenaline ride filled with shaky cam goodness that will redefine the way action movies are made and expectations of audiences, forever. For real though.

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Exploding its way through the sky with pure craziness and some of the best stunt-work ever filmed, Hardcore Henry is the feature film debut of music video director Ilya Naishuller. Naishuller, frontman of the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows, who first introduced the first-person action filing in the music videos for their band in their infamous song “Bad M*therfuck”, Naishuller directs and launched the band to online fame. After almost 33 million views, with the help of online word-of-mouth,  the support of the Internet, Kickstarter and some studio execs, Naishuller was able to develop his action-packed filming style to the silver screen, this time, with with Henry front and centre.

Henry, who is never really revealed in the film, was played by ten different stuntmen and cameramen, including its director, gives the literal vision of the film; provided the audience with his complete perspective, and all his kick-assery as well as some flashbacks memories, including a very repetitive one, where his father, played by Tim Roth, encourages Henry at a young age, after taking a beating from some bullies to “swallow the blood in his mouth, stand out, and go spill their’s”. Seems like some violent advice to tell a youngster, hence why Henry is so good at making everyone all bloody and bruised.

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Since its premiere at TIFF in the Midnight Madness programme in 2015, Hardcore Henry was being advertise as a movie going experience, unlike anything you have ever seen before. Thankfully, that pitch has been used with so many other films before this, yet, finally, for the first time in a long time, the tagline can live up to its reputation. Hardcore Henry is a gravity defining, atom bomb of excitement and energy on the silver screen. With a narrative pace that travels at the speed of light, the film never stops or ceases to disappoint fans of the hardcore action genre, it burns through its brisk and enjoyable runtime, and cements its place in your memory for life as one of the most exhilarating films you will ever see!

Although much praise should be given to the super-sonic stuntmen and cameramen involved with this project, as well as all the dedicated cast and crew who were in love with the making of this film, including Sharlto Copley, who easily hailed the film as the most difficult project of his entire career, the results really speak for themselves. From the catchy use of Queen’s undeniably catchy song “Don’t Stop Me Now”, which I played on repeat while writing this review (hence why you can probably catch many references to the song within the writing), to the brave filming style Naishuller was faithful to throughout the film, to the tremendously sweaty and pulsating score of Darya Charusha, Hardcore Henry is not for the faint of heart, provided endless in-your-face moments.

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Oh, and when we say faint of heart, we mean it. Since the film was mostly shot using a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition camera, the film is for no one person who can’t handle shaky cam, (including my father, who had to leave mere minutes into End of Watch and continued the rest of the film in the restroom). Hardcore Henry is a phenomenal action film and amongst the most superior action films ever made, period. As an action fan, please do not miss this landmark film. By the time the credits roll, despite its lack of deep story and one out-of-nowhere twist, Henry can only be described by the most obvious statement possible: one bad-ass, hardcore mother*cker!

Night Film Reviews: 10 Out of 10 Stars!!

Was Hardcore Henry as hardcore as you thought? Have you seen it yet? If not, why not? Enjoyable action experience or puke-worthy gimmick cinema? Leave all your hardcore thoughts below! And if you haven’t (or even if you have, check out the trailer for your own sake below.) 

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