“Hardcore Henry” self-aware nature makes it work


Directd by Ilya Naishuller and inspired by music videos made for the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows, “Hardcore Henry” is a no holds barred, action-thriller shot entirely from a first person view.

Waking up in a lab with no memory of the past, Henry (the audience) finds himself transformed into an android with the help of his wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett). But just before the finishing touches can be added, (mainly a voice for Henry) the psychopathic warlord, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), breaks into the lab seeking Henry for his own evil plans.

Henry escapes, but not before Estelle is captured by Akan. Now with only the help of the mysterious stranger, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), Henry must battle his way to Akan to save the woman he loves and discover his past.

When it comes to the title, “Hardcore Henry” is certainly that. The explosive action is nearly continuous throughout the 96-minute runtime.

The action is incredibly over-the-top and bloody. The plot is very simple (albeit a few good twists), and the jokes and one-liners are juvenile and groaners at best. But the key thing that makes all of this work is how self-aware “Hardcore Henry” is.

The movie knows it’s being dumb and bombastic. It’s acknowledged ridiculousness is what makes “Hardcore Henry” such an incredibly fun ride.

I’m serious about the ride part. If you go see it, treat it like a roller coaster. The constant moving camera could cause one to feel queasy, even before it’s halfway over.

If you have motion sickness, this movie is definitely not for you.

Copley definitely steals the spotlight, acting wise in his intriguing role as Jimmy. Kozlovsky’s hammy acting as the villainous Akan is a perfect addition to the rest of the movie’s tone.

Overall, the unapologetic violence and straight faced humor of “Hardcore Henry” are what really stand out. I was pleased to see that the POV style shooting was just a gimmick, but there is actually some creativity and wit to the film beyond just a new style of filming.