I had the pleasure of seeing Hardcore Henry in theaters in all it’s glory, and now I’m even more excited to have it available to watch at home on Blu-Ray (and onDemand). This movie gets you excited, takes you for a ride, and (surprisingly) did not make me nauseated. In short, it’s just like a fireworks show. They give you amazing spectacle over and over and then have a huge finale. Click below for more.
This feature length film was based on the success of a music video by director and Biting Elbows frontman Ilya Naishuller. The song is called Bad Motherf*cker, and it’s full of violence. So, you’ve been warned. Shot entirely on GoPro as first-person, it’s kind of like watching someone play Call of Duty. The video was so successful they did a crowdfunding campaign for a feature length movie, and that is what gave us Hardcore Henry.
If you found that at all appealing, you’ll love this movie.
As to be expected, it’s a bit light on plot and dialogue, but honestly, there was a lot more story and character development than I expected. The basic premise that you, Henry, have been injured and left for dead, brought back from the brink with cybernetics, and then your wife is kidnapped by a psychopathic mastermind, Akan. He has an army, so you have wreck havoc to get through them to stop Akan and reunite with your wife. The cybernetic enhancements help you survive a bit longer than a normal human, thus allowing “you” to take quite a beating over the 90 minute runtime.
There were several small aspects that I came to appreciate, especially after the second viewing. First off, Henry’s voice modulator is broken so he can’t talk at all. This small element has a huge impact on immersing you, the viewer, into the story. Since Henry can’t speak, you don’t hear a voice that isn’t yours, and he isn’t contributing to the dialogue at all. If Henry spoke, I feel it would be a barrier to the viewer feeling fully immersed in the action. Also, since “you” can’t talk, and Henry is also quite dazed when he regains consciousness, all of the characters talk to “you” in a way that lets you know what’s going on, but with out standing out as heavy handed. Don’t get me wrong, there is not a shred of subtly at all in this movie, but I feel that the methods of integrating the viewer were really well planned, and mostly organic.
I also really enjoyed the two main characters you interact with. They played to the camera fantastically, and kept the story going in between action scenes. Akan is a terrific villain, you hate him with every second he’s on screen, and Jimmy seems to pop up out of nowhere and constantly help you out.
I’m in my late 30s. I am ashamed to admit it, but I felt pretty ill when watching Blair Witch Project seventeen years ago. I also had a hard time watching Cloverfield a few years later. I was particularly nervous about seeing this in theaters, and having to leave in the middle. But I didn’t do that all. I did great. Not a single twinge of nauseau (from the motion… the violence is another story). The footage is all from a GoPro, but the filmmakers applied a stabilizer filter to the final film. Apparently there’s some level of frequency in shakiness that triggers seasickness. So take it from, a guy who almost barfed at Blair Witch Hardcore Henry won’t make you seasick.
The violence however, is a different story. It’s a bone-crushing, blood-splattering, ear-ringing, stabby onslaught. The opening title sequence features various injuries being made to the human body in slow motion. If that makes you squirmish, you’re not going to like the rest of the movie. The violence is extreme, to the point of being cartoony, which is great. But if you don’t like violence, this one will definitely test your limits.
I loved this movie. I got a much better experience out of it than I initially expected. I saw it in theaters in April and then happily watched it the day I got my review copy in the mail. Now just writing about it, I want to watch it again. I find I enjoy all types of movies, from intellectual pieces, to sci-fi, to visual spectacle. The true test for whether I like a movie is how soon I’d watch it again. I could watch this almost immediately after finishing a viewing (though I don’t recommend back to back, give your eyes some rest).
We watched some of the Bonus features such as the live discussion with director Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copely, the actor who played Jimmy, as well as the deleted scenes. There are also two commentary tracks that I’ll be watching soon.
This movie has the promise of being a cult smash. Invite over some friends and cheer everytime someone gets done in. It’s a fantastic ride and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.