Unlike the majority of people I know, I was aware of Hardcore Henry well before the trailers hit American theaters. A Youtuber I follow saw it when it was at Toronto International Film Festival where it was simply known as “Hardcore”. Why they changed the name name from Hardcore to Hardcore Henry, I’m not entirely sure, but I have a couple of guesses.
When I bought the ticket and headed to the auditorium, I was at least hoping that Hardcore Henry was going to be a good time, and my hopes were met. I haven’t seen a movie cater to my 17-year-old self in quite some time. It is brutal, ridiculous, and hyperactive.
The concept alone gives it some credit: it’s a movie that’s shot entirely through the eyes of a silent protagonist as he goes around and fights wave after wave of bad guys while a story is (kind of…) happening in the background. I’ve never seen a movie quite like this; the main protagonist is essentially the cameraman which is why the top billed actors are not the character who plays Henry, but the people that he sees the most.
Hardcore Henry also benefits from not taking itself very seriously at all. Much of what happens in this movie is absolutely absurd and off the wall, but when the entire film’s tone is implying that it’s supposed to be off the wall and absurd, the movie works well (the director of Turbo Kid should take note of this).
The stunt work is also really impressive; many of the stunts pulled in the movie were without a green screen and it gave a very real sense of danger, especially considering the camera man is one of the stuntmen.
Hardcore Henry can get exceedingly brutal, occasionally sexual, and oftentimes profane, so viewers should beware of whether or not these kind of things ruin a movie for them. A lot of the elements of this movie often reminded me of Deadpool, all except the love interest not being so forced and actually helping the story.
Aside from the vast wave of people that appear in this movie just to get slaughtered, there are only three or four primary characters and while they aren’t necessarily exceptional characters (well, an argument could certainly be made for Sharlto Copley’s), each one performs their role in the movie well and in the way they are intentioned.
One thing that consistently took me out of the movie was the camera work. Because the camera is the leading character in the story, it has to move around all the time, even when the character is standing still. This causes most of the visuals and scenes in the movie to be shaky and unfocused. I do not really know if this can be blamed on the movie or be blamed on the gimmick it uses. I would love to watch another first-person film and see if it too is struggling with camera focus.
This movie also doesn’t really have much to say about anything aside from a few cliche tropes in moviemaking in general (I thought the very last line was hilarious because of what it was making fun of). If you go into this movie with the expectation that it’s simply supposed to be a wild, crazy, and violent ride, you will have more fun with this movie than if you are expecting a deeper, underlying meaning.
Because of a lot of the content, I can’t really recommend Hardcore Henry to everyone, but to those who enjoy seeing new film concepts being done and/or excessive amounts of bullets, blood, and babes, then go check this movie out. I, for one, had a good time, but I don’t think I’ll go out of my way to see it again, and I’m giving this movie a 7 out of 10.