Looking Through the Eyes of ‘Hardcore Henry’
Imagine what would happen if a movie studio gave a 13-year-old gamer a GoPro camera, $10 million and free reign to make whatever movie he wanted. “Hardcore Henry” is the hyperactive product.
The action flick centers on the titular character who wakes up in a lab with robotic prosthetics, newfound superhuman strength and the inability to speak. Scientist Estelle (Haley Bennett) claims to be his wife and recounts the nearly fatal accident that took Henry’s arm and leg.
Things quickly take a turn for the worse when the telekinetically powered Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) arrives with multiple mercenaries to seize Henry. When they try to escape, Henry and Estelle are separated and Akan takes Estelle captive. Now Henry must use his fantastic abilities to mow through Akan’s army of super soldiers and save his wife.
Director Ilya Naishuller attempts to simulate the experience of playing a video game by shooting the film entirely through the first-person perspective of Henry. Naishuller used this technique in a music video for his band Biting Elbows, which served as inspiration for “Hardcore Henry.”
While the unique point of view entertains audiences for the majority of the film, some scenes are lost in the effect. The narrow perspective becomes problematic in fight scenes in which the camera moves so frantically, moviegoers cannot fully enjoy the brilliant and exciting stunt work.
The action scenes are nonetheless incredible to watch and make this film worth experiencing on the big screen. The hours of choreography that went into their making is evident and pays off with set pieces that will undoubtedly leave viewers wondering how coordinators pulled off such intricate work.
One of the most memorable aspects of the film is Sharlto Copley (“District 9,” “Chappie”) who garners laughs as Jimmy. A quirky character, Jimmy and his many personas aid Henry in his epic journey. The juxtaposition of Jimmy’s charisma and Henry’s silence creates a humorous and dynamic partnership.
Though novel in style and action, “Hardcore Henry” fails to pack a punch on story and character. Audiences are not offered anything resembling an interesting story until the middle of the second act. The details they are eventually afforded are satisfying enough to maintain their curiosity, but the delay is no less frustrating.
“Hardcore Henry” drops the ball on its storytelling, but the action of this film is still fun, impressive and easy to invest in. The movie is worth the trip to the theater for its first-person perspective alone. If you came for the story though, you might be left cold by the end.
“Hardcore Henry” is now playing in theaters.