If Hardcore Henry is anything, it’s an experience. A crazy, bullet ridden, bone crunching experience that is not for the squeamish. Do you remember those times you’ve finished playing a game and thought to yourself I wonder how that would be as a film? Well Hardcore Henry is that thought realised for the big screen, and boy is it nuts.
Shot almost entirely on the GoPro Hero 3 Camera, the film takes place in first person point of view just like in an FPS game. If your a game then you’ve played something like Hardcore Henry countless times before, but now you get to watch it in all of it’s real world glory. It’s an adrenaline fuelled, madness packed trip that follows Henry, a recently deceased man brought back to life with the help of technology and robotics. With no memory of how he wound up dead, or who he is, Henry is thrust into a fight for his life after his wife Estelle (Haley Bennet) is kidnapped by the evil Akan (Danila Kozlovsky). Aiding him in his adventure is the unusual Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who has his own agenda for wanting Akan dead.
I’ve always wanted somebody to give the FPS point of view a go for an entire film, not only to see if it worked but to see if it enhanced the experience of watching the film. Unfortunately aside from a pretty short but sweet segment in Doom we’ve had to settle for found footage films or shaky cam documentaries. But thankfully Hardcore Henry is here to break the mould, and it works very well. Admittedly for many the frenetic pace at which the camera moves could be tough to follow or easy to watch, but if your an experienced gamer than you’ll not bat an eyelid.
Being a gamer, or at least having an understanding of games mechanics, and even story arcs and events will enhance the enjoyment of watching the film. From acquiring upgrades to boss battles, there are many a gaming trope to be found within the film. Though these elements are fun, Sharlto Copley absolutely steals the show with a series of imaginative performances (you read that right, plural) that are just off the wall and thoroughly entertaining. Some of the supporting cast are equally bizarre, but none the less enjoyable. At a swift 90 minutes, Hardcore Henry has the perfect running time, but it crams a heck of a lot of violence into that time frame. The majority of it is entertaining game like violence, but it does have a slight penchant for going overboard. The opening title sequence itself contains a somewhat unnecessary image involving a knife and a neck, in slow motion. Your enjoyment of the film will very much depend on your tolerance to fast movement and violence, but there are plenty of dastardly funny moments throughout Henry’s intense journey as he cripples henchman after henchman to bloodily lighten the mood.
In summary Hardcore Henry is gorier than a horror film, faster and more furious than a Vin Diesel vehicle, and is one of the downright craziest films you’ll see this year. With a pulsing soundtrack, and a litany of fist fights and showdowns, it’s enjoyable madness from start to finish.