This action movie is gory, violent, adventurous, at times humorous, and more than a little strange. It’s an experiment that works in some aspects but also has the potential for making the audience violently ill, so your enjoyment may hinge solely on that aspect. I had a blast with how ridiculously exaggerated it was in its presentation, but as someone who has been forced to take a critical eye and notice little details due to work, some of the rapid cuts and motion blur got to me in a couple of places. Still, I never puked in my popcorn, though I’ve heard that’s been an issue.
Hardcore Henry is an action film done entirely in first person view from the perspective of a cyborg with no memory of his previous life. All Henry knows is that he’s alive, his wife is under attack, and he must escape or fight back against a strange telekinetic man named Akan. While this plot is further expanded upon, there are a lot of questions never answered. Admittedly, I don’t think they need to be. Instead, this is about the ride and realizing what it looks like when our first person shooters get translated accurately into film, because that’s pretty much what this is. It’s very reminiscent of a video game, with all the logic leaps and problems that occur in the medium.
In the meantime, we get mayhem. People get killed in this movie. Not nicely shot, but blown apart, stabbed, slaughtered, and destroyed. Heads get blown open, chest cavities torn apart, people burned to a crisp or ripped apart by shrapnel. By the end, our voiceless protagonist is caked in blood and barely working himself, but he’s shredded more than his fair share of people into ribbons. It’s not quite Riki-Oh in terms of ridiculousness, but…oh, who am I kidding? It’s very much Riki-Oh in terms of ridiculousness at times. There’s more gore than a GWAR concert in this film. It’s also almost nonstop action, so if you can stomach it, this is pure cinema gold.
Oh, speaking of those details I notice…when Henry breaks into an apartment by climbing through the window, one of the posters on the wall is for a little movie called Lady in the Lake, a classic film noir from 1947 that was the first film done entirely in first person. I’m glad Hardcore Henry knows its history.