Hardcore Henry, a motion sickness inducing splatter fest

Timothy Page, Arapahoe Pinnacle Movie Critic

henry1A movie like this is hard to 100% pin down. It’s hard because I can’t deny it technical skills, but I also can’t deny that its first person charm stopped about 30 minutes in…and you still have to watch the rest of the movie.

That’s right, Hardcore Henry is all first person action and it starts to grate on you after a while.

We, as an audience, wake up as Henry. A man who has been in some kind of Robocop like accident and has been made a human with enhanced cybernetic abilities. He has a new arm, leg, and most everything else. What he doesn’t have is his memories. He wakes to see a beautiful blonde doctor (Haley Bennett) putting him back together, who claims she is his wife. After that, a strange man with telekinetic powers named Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) kidnaps her and that sends Henry on a chase to find the man. All the while, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley from District 9), a man who always seems to come back even after he’s killed, is there to help him out.

Sound strange, off the walls, just plain weird? Well, yes, it’s all of those things.

I’ll just get this off my chest, I have never seen a film revel and indulge in violence quite like Hardcore Henry does. This is a video game movie through and through so it does take the violence over the top on more than one occasion. Heck, one of the final showdowns happens while Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” is playing.

The movie does have fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. That being said, it seems to enjoy itself a bit too much at times. The gunplay looks like a first person shooter, the chase scenes have a good amount of Parkour in them, and the kills (and there are many of them) have a certain ferocity to them that you’d really only find in a video game.

It focuses on the kills and the gore so much that a story is lost under it and, by the end, I was left wondering why I should care about what will happen. Some questions are answered, and a resolution is eventually found, but by that point I felt so tired of the film’s straight up butchery that I really didn’t care what happened.

The actor who plays Henry isn’t credited here, but by the time this big baddy burst into the operating room at the beginning of the film he didn’t have time to get his voice box programed. Henry is mute. So that means everyone else is talking to him and explaining the story. Sharlto Copley does a crazy, off the wall performance, but is actually pretty impressive here. How exactly he keeps showing up, even after he is killed, is a question they answer and I liked it, but that’s only one of the many questions this film raises and only one of the few it answers. The movie does ask you to buy into the weirdness and just takes you along for a 90-minute ride.

Hardcore Henry is exactly what you think it is. It pulls off some fairly impressive stunt work, some very well done gunplay, and I can say I have not seen a movie like it before. It’s still not something you have to rush out and see this weekend. Also, if you have issues with motion sickness, just skip it entirely, its GoPro captured scenes are shaky and hard to focus on. If you don’t mind the shakiness and have been looking forward to seeing it, go watch it. It has its fun moments, but to me a lot of the fun was lost about half way through. After yet another man was bloodily dispatched and it just kept chugging along.

There’s a moment in the movie, just as another action scene is about to start, when Jimmy sticks his nose into a bag full of cocaine and inhales deeply, pumping himself up to kill more faceless baddies. I can’t help but think that about this film. It’s exhilarating at first, but eventually the high wears off and you’re left wondering if there’s any more to it. The answer is no, there isn’t.

Rating: 2/5 Brutal, bludgeoning, and tiring. Hardcore Henry’s interesting premise and story are buried under the piles of bodies it’s very eager to stack up.

STX Entertainment