Experimental movies have to be admired because they push the boundaries of known cinema and try to create a new form of artistic expression. Hardcore Henry certainly pushes the boundaries of known cinema, but apart from being a breakthrough movie for Hollywood, it’s an enjoyable action film as well.
Hardcore Henry is essentially a sci-fi Fast & Furious movie mixed with some Tarantino (it is very gory). The whole movie is told from a first person point of view. Henry (you) wakes up in a lab and is told that he is a super human – half robot half human. A woman named Estelle (Haley Bennett) begins to explain Henry’s transformation, and she also was Henry’s wife. However, a group of mercenaries break into the lab and kidnap Estelle. Henry is abandoned in a Russian city where he must hunt down his wife’s kidnappers while finding out who he is.
Many young audience members will be reminded of their first-person-shooter video games, and essentially the plot is as good as the best video games of today (which is pretty decent). But we shouldn’t be judging this film really in the structure of their story, rather in how they tell this story.
I found the first person POV to be exhilarating, it certainly made the action sequences pop out more, but I have to confess that it might not be for everyone. One thing that might not be to everyone’s liking is the extensive action sequences and the gory violence, but you really would have yourself to blame, this film is called HARDCORE Henry. Another thing that might not be to most peoples’ preference is so much camera movement, it will certainly feel dizzy at moments, but to contrast it is much better that the typical found-footage films.
As for artistic aspects I have to say that I was impressed with director Ilya Naishuller (this is his first feature), he really gave this film his own signature and I admired some subtle symbolisms that broke the fourth wall. And of course I find it very hard to dislike someone who choreographed a fight scene around Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.”
In the end Hardcore Henry is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, and I always admire ambitious artists pushing the boundaries of the possible. In terms of enjoyment the plot is a typical generic action one, but the real ride is being in the movie.