I wasn’t sure if the film Hardcore Henry was an experience I was going to take part in. The trailer was cool, but I also had an inkling that the best parts lie within that few minutes of teaser. However, I have to admit, it’s one Hell of a sneak peak.
Between the first-person camera work, Sharlto Copley and my favorite Queen song, “Don’t Stop Me Now”, it spoke to me and I knew I had to see it.
We see the film, literally, through the eyes of Henry. He wakes from an amnesiac sleep to find his wife Estelle attaching a few cybernetic limbs and before he knows it he’s been blasted into the action. He’s being chased by a suspicious Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange look-a-like named Akan and his men and it genuinely feels like an opening scene from a video game. While trying to escape, Estelle is captured and with the help of Copley’s Jimmy, he vows to get her back. Not that we hear Henry say it, because he cannot speak.
The movie plays out with balls-to-the-wall action sequences that try to up the ante of the previous sequence. The numerous video game references are great, but the trope does get old quickly. Perhaps it would have prolonged if there had been a proper backstory but the film is all bite and no bark.
In fact, it’s actually more just a stage for Sharlto Copley’s range of characters. Jimmy, who continuously dies and resurrects as someone else is the most surprising and exciting part of the film, and that should speak volumes about a creative, new action film.
For everyone praising the film as something fresh and inventive, it felt like a lot of other films I had seen before. I was willing, and in fact love, the nauseating camerawork of Cloverfield because the action told a story and furthered an actual plot where Henry doesn’t. There’s also the familiar Crank storyline that if his parts stop ticking then he dies. Even after a while the shots felt predictable and the violence no longer thrilled.
In the end, it’s a fun film to see if you’re into the action genre and love the idea of a video game brought to life. Just don’t expect a tale of epic proportions.
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