Even as I start this write up I can’t believe what I’m about to say. Somehow, almost inexplicably, your streaming pick of the week is the totally bizarre and wholly original, Hardcore Henry.
Henry (Andrei Dementiev) is brought back from the dead in a Robocop type scenario. More machine than man Henry has no memories of his former life. Estelle (Haley Bennett), the woman who gets Henry back online, claims to be his wife. Henry isn’t given much information and his voice modulator isn’t put online before the lab is under attack.
Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) is a telekinetic megalomaniac that needs the Estelle’s knowledge to build his own army of super soldiers. Henry must stop Akan and save his wife. The only ally he has in Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) a somewhat deranged man with multiple forms.
Does the plot sound a little too big? Maybe on the wrong side of insanity? That’s the point. Hardcore Henry is a video game script shot as a movie. The entire movie is in the first person. The three act story structure is plain as day and might as well advertise Stage 1, 2, and 3 on the screen as the insanity increases. No backstory is really given. The story is told through flashbacks that may as well be cut scenes. The story is bare bones but the action and creativity keep you glued to the screen.
Hardcore Henry is currently streaming on Netflix
The violence is highly stylized. The choreography fits the strange choice in camera work. The camera work itself was not as jarring as I thought it’d be. I am glad I didn’t watch this in my home theater though. 90 minutes of shaky first person insanity takes a toll. If you aren’t into handy-cam movies like Cloverfield this one will definitely make you lose your lunch. The movie could have been just as insane and fun if there was some more establishing third person shots. I guess without the gimmick we wouldn’t be talking Hardcore Henry right now.
The big push to get me to give this movie a shot was Sharlto Copley. After District 9 I will watch anything Copley does. Copley gets to ham it up and chew the scenery as a slew of different characters. He doesn’t play the lead, but since the lead is faceless, Copley gets the most screen time by far. He has the responsibility of delivering the exposition that finally tells the story, but his rapid quick switches in characters is a lot of fun to watch.
Hardcore Henry isn’t a “good” movie. It was very original and a lot of fun for a quick hit of action. It’s all the best parts of B action movies and the best video game/movie adaptation that isn’t exactly an adaptation. It’s fast food. Every now and then you crave something like this. Every now and then something like this isn’t really bad for you. A bit too much and it’ll make you sick though.