Film Review of HARDCORE HENRY (2016)

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Running time : 1 hour 36

Cast : Jimmy -Sharlto Copley

Henry’s Father – Tim Roth 

Estelle – Hayley Bennett 

THIS IS FOR THE PLAYERS may be the PlayStation 4 adverts tagline, but it fits perfectly with this movie. It isn’t really a film at all by conventional standards. To any modern gamer, this is just what we see day in day out. When playing the latest Call Of Duty or Uncharted game, we say to ourselves, wow, this is just like playing a movie. I think that was the genesis of how Hardcore Henry came into existence. If you follow that logic, there is nothing original about this movie at all. I sat there thinking firstly about when shaky cam first met kinetic action to a bevy electro beat. To my kind came RUN LOLA RUN up to CRANK. Recently though, THE RAID was the film to lessen the dialogue scenes and try wall to wall fighting. 

Like any video game, there’s little in the way of story. The movie and trailer starts like HALO or many others, in a lab with some doctor talking you through your predicament. HALF-LIFE was the next touchstone and BLACK OPS 3 as your body is cybernetic and takes a beating but you can still fight on. 

Produced by Timur Bekmambetov of WANTED and NIGHT WATCH fame, the visuals are brilliant. The cuts however make even less time for your brain to make sense of things. I would’ve preferred it to be in real time, one continuous shot. Director Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9) also worked on Payday 2 together. Ilya doesn’t waste more than 30 seconds between action or carnage. Skydive into Call Of Duty shoot out, into Mirrors Edge free running, into Uncharted vehicle shoot out, into Farcry jungle stealth, into Battlefront soldier attack, into GTA5 lap dancing place…and on and on, never letting up. 

Sharlto Copley plays about 20+ characters (also a video game device- Black Ops 3 campaign/assassins Creed Black Flag- ) with its magufin allowing one conciencesness to flit from one body to another. Unfairly it’s the Sharlto show because we don’t usually see the face of our lead character, much like, yes you’ve guessed it, in video games. 

Also, our lead cannot speak as briefly touched on in the trailer. 

Now worth every good hero game or movie there’s a villain. Here, it’s a telekinetic albino Andy Warhol looking dude. He looks very much like Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luther albeit albino. 

He’s hammy. Not meanacing but brutal. Like most game villains, he’s paper thin. 

So if you can remember the church scene in The Kingsman, and imagine that for one and a half hours, you can picture this experience. 

But all that said, as much as the few woman partners who I sat near constantly kept checking the time on their smartphones…..I had a blast. I absolutely loved it. There’s moments of inventive kills which didn’t hold back because it’s rated 18. I just had a great time once I was aware that it simply was 90 minutes of end battles stuck into one non stop movie. 

I can’t wait to see it again. 

Like having two shots of adrenalin injected into both legs while listening to Don’t Stop Me Now by QUEEN. 

In fact, exactly that. 

C Whitehouse 

Copley, Henry, hardcore, Roth, video game 

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