Follow us on

Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Hardcore Henry

July 26th, 2016

Hardcore Henry - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray
Video on Demand

Hardcore Henry

I just finished reviewing Sing Street and I thought it was a non-original idea done with exceptional execution. On the other hand, Hardcore Henry could be the exact opposite. It is a first-person action film, which is odd, to put it mildly. It earned a ton of internet buzz, but failed to find an audience in theaters. Is it just a cool idea, but a weak film? Or should more people check it out on the home market?

The Movie

Before we get to the plot, we first have to talk about the hook. Hardcore Henry is a first person action film that is entirely from the perspective of the main character, who never speaks. The plot begins with a man lying in a tub of water while a scientist, Estelle, talks to him. He can’t speak and can’t remember how he got there, but she assures him the first is temporary and the second is normal. She attaches a cybernetic arm and a leg while talking to Henry, she introduces herself and says the two were married. She takes Henry to the next room where Robert will help install the cybernetics that will allow Henry to speak. Before that can happen, the installation is attacked by Akan and his men. Akan talks to Henry, kills a couple of the scientists, including one with some kind of telekinetic power that is never explained, but Estelle is able to create a distraction so the two of them can leave. During the escape, we learn they are not in some underground bunker, but floating in the sky. They do have an escape pod, but it wasn’t built for two, so the landing is rough and Akan’s men get to them before they can get away.

Estelle is kidnapped and Henry is shot at, but rescued by Jimmy. Jimmy informs Henry that his cybernetics are running out of power and if they do, Henry will die. But don’t worry, Jimmy has a lab that will recharge him. Then Jimmy dies. That happens to him a lot in this movie.

The central hook in Hardcore Henry is the first-person view. It is entirely in first-person shot from the perspective of the main character. This is also the film’s biggest weakness. I think the first-person view would work great, for a five to ten minute long YouTube video. It doesn’t work for a feature-length movie, because the first-person point of view doesn’t allow enough variety. It is certainly much harder to create any drama or tension and even the action scenes don’t have enough variety to them, so no matter how frenetic they are, they grow boring really quickly. Most of the time, I thought the action scenes would look a lot better with more camera angles. This isn’t the only problem with the movie. Akan is an effeminate villain, which is a trope that needs to die. There’s a shootout at a brothel resulting in a lot of dead prostitutes, which is another trope that has overstayed its welcome. Also, and this is a big problem, I was never emotionally attached to the main character. I didn’t care if he lived in the end, so it was hard to get into the action.

It’s not all bad. Some of the action scenes work for limited periods. The acting is best part of the film with Sharlto Copley playing character after character while Haley Bennett is good in the few scenes she gets to act in. However, that’s not enough to recommend the movie.

The Extras

There are two audio commentary tracks, one with just the writer / director, Ilya Naishuller, while Sharlto Copley joins him on the second audio commentary track. Up next is eight minutes of deleted scenes. Finally, there’s a 12-minute fan chat where Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley answer questions from fans.

The Verdict

I really wanted to like Hardcore Henry, but less than ten minutes in and I knew the first-person point-of-view was a gimmick and not a real asset for the movie. It flopped in theaters, but the extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are better than expected. If you were one of the few who saw the movie in theaters and liked it, then it is worth picking up. If you saw the trailer and it looked interesting, but you were worried if the hook would work, then probably stay away.

Filed under: Video Review, Sing Street, Hardcore Henry, Haley Bennett, Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Will Foster Stewart, Ilya Naishuller