Hardcore Henry (2015)

  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
  • Director: Ilya Naishuller
  • Cast: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky


Hardcore Henry is an action film told from a first person perspective: You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife (Haley Bennett). She tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan; he’s a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. Everyone except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy. He may be on your side, but you aren’t sure. If you can survive the insanity, and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity. Good luck, Henry. You’re likely going to need it…


  • Hardcore Henry unequivocally lives up to its titular descriptive, but this experimental and experiential first-person narrative action flick will polarise. The Twitch generation will hail it as a masterpiece, while others less inclined to senseless splatter and migraine-inducing mayhem may deem Hardcore Henry pure and utter rubbish.

    Neither camp would be entirely in the wrong for the movie impresses as much as it irritates. Shot entirely on GoPro cameras, the entire work is an energised blur and there is a frequently thrilling immediacy to the first-person POV during the action scenes. Coordinating the composition and choreography is remarkable considering all the logistics of the various elements – parkour, gunfights, helicopters, tanks, not to mention all the bodies to be shot, knifed, impaled, and flung off roofs.

    Yes, one will often murmur “How did they do that?” as much as “How much more of this hell is left to endure?” For all its jacked-up rowdiness, there is something particularly deadening about the entire film. One could chalk it up to its lack of plot, characterisation, structure and, sometimes, basic acting skills. There’s Henry, some sort of half-man, half-machine soldier, whose memories and speech have been erased. He wakes up in a laboratory where he gazes upon Estelle (Haley Bennett), who claims to be his wife before she’s snatched away by telekinetic albino warlord Akan (Danila Kozlovsky).

    And so Henry runs and runs, intent on rescuing a woman he barely remembers, encountering a host of bad guys as well as a succession of eccentrics – a stoner, a punk, a military officer – all played by Sharlto Copley, who even indulges in a song and dance number.

    But really who cares? Are we meant to even care? Writer-director Ilya Naishuller, known for his “single-take” first-person videos for his band Biting Elbows, definitely achieves his prime goal of delivering high-octane, extreme and cartoonish violence (the fight in the skyscraper takes Old Boy’s most famed sequence and pumps it full of steroids) but instead of being immersive, it feels distancing.

    Ultimately, it means nothing and is nothing. That may suit its target audience, who may not even be aware of 1947’s Lady in the Lake (the first full-length feature film to employ the first-person camera technique), and are happily content to let their minds become numbed by the orgiastic freneticism let loose onscreen.

    Click here for more reviews at the etc-etera site

  • Bold, hilarious and insane! Adrenaline junkies sign up here.

    With the mantra that “nobody must die on the film,” Hardcore Henry gives an inventive point of view of an old concept with new tricks.

    Hardcore Henry bills itself as the first point-of-view action film, and its astounding camera-work will ensure disbelief on this roller-coaster ride. But hold on to your barf bags while I explain that Hardcore Henry is exactly what it states…hardcore. If you get motion sickness easily, this flick is not for you!

    The Henry of Hardcore Henry is a petri dish fusion of half-man, half-robot with no memory who must save his wife from a telekinetic grunge-inspired psychopath and his minions of superhuman cyber-bots. The perspective of the film is entirely from Henry’s perspective; you experience everything Henry experiences, and it’s a sucker-punch of a ride through Henry’s eyes. He’s a natural-made killer; all the slicing and dicing and blood and guts are very up close and impersonal.

    32-year-old Russian writer/director Ilya Naishuller utilized countless GoPros attached to a stabilization system to “Henry’s” head, played by nearly a dozen stuntmen and even Naishuller himself. As Rolling Stone describes “it blurs the line between film and first-person shooter—think Doom meets Ichi the Killer meets Kingda Ka.” Don’t like video games? Neither do I, but the intensity and surrealism on screen kept me hooked from start to finish.

    If you go into the perspective of what this film is, and not what you think it should be, then you’ll have one hell of a time. Sharlto Copley, who plays 11 half-cyborg versions of his character Jimmy, admit, “It’s not like we’re trying to make an Oscar-winning movie here.”

    Copley imagines the technology extending past action and fundamentally changing the way a filmgoer experiences movies.

    “If you were Leo or Kate at the end of Titanic and your partner’s slipping away to death, would that be even more engaging if the actor was looking you in the eye?” he asks. “I don’t know the answer, but I think it’s a fascinating question.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *