Movie Review: Hardcore Henry (2016)


Directed by Ilya Naishuller in his feature film debut, Hardcore Henry is a 2016 action/semi-sci-fi film shot almost entirely in the first person. Henry, the silent protagonist whose perspective we see the film, is a super-soldier on the run from a mysterious group of mercenaries with the help of Jimmy (a fantastically versatile Sharlto Copley). The film is essentially an extended video game cutscene as Henry and Jimmy attempt to outrun the villainous telekinetic Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) as Henry attempts to rescue his wife Estelle (Hayley Bennett).

+ the first-person perspective makes everything feel so personal and intense; Henry’s little slip when climbing something high will make your stomach lurch, and you’ll almost want to wipe the splatter from your own face
+ Sharlto Copley is simply phenomenal as Jimmy. Copley pulls off various personas with ease, and his character, Jimmy, will certainly leave a very lasting impression.
+ the film is incredibly violent, almost over-the-top so. This only adds to the subtle black humour the film has going for it, but the various booms, splats and snaps will keep your eyes wide and heart pounding. Certainly not for those who are squeamish towards blood
+ the soundtrack, both the heart pumping score, and a few select well known songs, serve the action well. The bass heavy electronic tunes are a great background beat to the action

– I’ll admit it, I’m not personally good with prolonged first person/shaki-cam movies (see: Cloverfield). A few times I did start to feel slightly disoriented from the action

> Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) reminded me much of Viserys Targaryen, that is Dany’s crowned older brother from Game of Thrones. I think it was mostly the long, pale hair… and that he was kind of a jerk.
> Copley is quickly becoming one of my favourite actors, and I am certainly keeping an eye out for his upcoming Free Fire, directed by High-Rise director Ben Wheatley. It’s funny that I randomly chose to watch Elysium the other day, which starred Copley in a main role, and only recently reviewed High-Rise, and now they are both popping up in this review.

Should you see this film: Yes. This was one of the most unique, and engrossing films I have seen in a very long time. The violence won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve ever wanted to be IN an action movie, this is it.

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