Do you want to feel like part of the action? John does and straps in for Hardcore Henry.
Hardcore Henry (2015)
What I knew of this film came from my own personal research when we posted the trailers here at The Unheard Nerd. A film of Russian origin and filmed in the first person perspective looked to contain more action that several big summer blockbuster movies combined!
I’m aware that many films have tried the first person perspective as a storytelling device before but the one I always think of first is Doom (2005) starring Karl Urban.
Based on the classic first-person shooter computer game from the 1990’s, this was another attempt at translating a popular game into film. The most memorable sequence near the film’s climax had the view switching to a first person perspective and tries to cinematically replicate the game.
The most memorable sequence near the film’s climax had the view switching to a first person perspective and tries to cinematically replicate the game.
I really enjoyed that sequence but can you make a whole film using such a technique? Hardcore Henry has.
Strap in. Hardcore Henry is one of the most unflinchingly original wild-rides to hit the big screen in a long time: 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 (Danila Kozlovsky); 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 (Sharlto Copley.) 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…
The story behind Hardcore Henry is really quite simple. As the film begins, you, as Henry, awake in a laboratory. A female scientist talks you through the procedure as she attaches both a synthetic leg and an arm to replace your missing limbs. While she does this, she reveals to you that she is your wife as you are unable to recall any memories before this moment.
She walks you to another room and two fellow scientists prepare to provide you with an artificial voice box as it transpires that you cannot speak. But before they can do so, a tactical assault team storm the room and are soon followed by their leader, Akun.
This tall slim man, with flowing white hair and red eyes, reveals himself to be telekinetic. He demonstrates his power to kill the scientists in the room. Thanks to a diversion from your wife, you manage to escape the laboratory and so beings Hardcore Henry.
Before I go into more detail, I understand that some people understandably suffered from motion sickness from the use of a first person perspective whilst viewing this in the cinema. This may also affect viewers at home on smaller screens, luckily I wasn’t affected.
Hardcore Henry is a full on, crazy, violent, action scene. Whilst there is a story that propels our protagonist through each violent encounter, it is rather simple with an ending that won’t come as a major surprise.
The story is helped along by the regular appearance of Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who despite dying comes back as different characters throughout the film. Don’t worry, this strange occurrence is explained near the end but most of you, I’m sure, will guess how it is achieved in the context of the film.
Jimmy wants Henry to come and visit him but unfortunately, the Akan militia try and stop him at every turn and this is where the fun really appears onscreen. From a unique first-person perspective, you’ll watch as Henry fights his way through, according to IMDb, just over two hundred men.
There are knife fights, shootouts using guns of all descriptions, tanks, helicopters and even a bit of parkour thrown in for good measure. With each encounter, you’ll also be guaranteed of a healthy amount of blood flowing across the screen as well.
For the beginning of the film, much of the action is edited together to create an almost seamless single take but as the film progresses the use of editing helps change the flow of the action. For me, this made the film easier to digest.
I’m in two minds over this film. Technically this is an incredibly well-made film using Go Pro cameras with a low budget of just a few million dollars. The action just keeps upping the stakes, especially towards the end where the situation just goes over the top.
However, even with a snappy run time of around an hour and a half, for myself, this was just a little too much. By the time the film’s climatic sequence had kicked in, I had become a little tired of the film’s selling point. There’s only so much killing you can watch before it all becomes a little tiresome. But until that point, I was enjoying the film immensely.
Don’t take my opinion as final though, see it for yourself. Hardcore Henry really is a great piece of action cinema that should be experienced first hand.