Perhaps setting a tone, Hardcore Henry opens with slo-mo shots of graphic violence. When the film proper opens we meet a ‘hero’ we will never see in Henry, who like a battery operated GI Joe filled with Universal Soldier parts, rises from his surgery table to track down the truth of how he came to be in this predicament.
The trail to the truth is long, protracted and unnecessarily convoluted – as all the best first person shooter stories are…
See, the film’s hook is that everything from the opening moments unfolds in front of Henry. We see everyone through his eyes and quite often see arms – and the damage they do – as almost an extension of our own. Speaking as someone who has played more First Person Shooter (FPS) games than most, I can say that seeing these initial views stirred pleasant memories of couches, chips, coke bottles and countless wasted hours. Then I realised that I pretty much fast forward all of the cutscenes in these games for good reason.
Henry searches on, aided and abetted by several Sharlto Copley’s in various forms. He becomes Henry’s ‘pit-crew’ and our director of exposition, babbling away incessantly and dribbling largely useless information. So we basically have the usual faceless combatant moving endlessly forward to wreak mayhem, only we don’t have the rush of controlling them or dictating the extent of the inevitable chaos.
Elsewhere the film is a grab bag of teen friendly fare. The bad guys drive A-Team vans, the aforementioned GI Joe and Unisol influences will please some, and the plot has undeniable Crank undertones throughout. Oh, and of course it’s very violent and there is abundant boobage to look at.
It isn’t terrible it just isn’t that new. All I’m saying is I’ve seen this film before, and I liked it more when it was the bits I fast forwarded during the game I was playing.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. As an act of inspiration having an entire film shown entirely in first person is admirable. As a film Hardcore Henry is cinematic fairy bread: a bland base sprinkled with a few bright distractions.