The impression I had when I first saw the trailer for Hardcore Henry was that it was either going to be god-awfully stupid or explosively brilliant. Either way, it was a movie I was going to see. I wasn’t disappointed. Director Ilya Naishuller strapped a GoPro to a team of Stuntmen and Cameramen and broke the mold with this one. Most first-person films use the “found footage style” but rarely is it meant to be through the literal eyes of the hero. With this in mind, I had planned on a lack of a serious plot and expected a thrill ride of stunts. And I was right, but it isn’t a bad thing.
This article is presented here as a part of Throwback Thursday, where we revisit some highlights from the archives of both Sabrael D. Carroll and M.E. Garey. This particular piece comes to you from April 2016.
Some articles informed me that Naishuller originally had a dark and edgy plot in mind, but when he cast Sharlto Copley, the movie took a turn for the goofy when Copley was set to play different versions of his character “Jimmy”. Without this turn for the light-hearted, I doubt the movie would have been as enjoyable as it was. In the end, the plot itself enforced the over-the-top manner in which the story unfolds, having it actually make more sense than most movies of the genre. I won’t try and summarize it or spoil it (Wikipedia can do that for me if you are interested), but needless to say, it’s worth the watch.
The stunts in Hardcore Henry are the meat of the film. Amazing long single shots of choreographed fighting, gun play and parkour executed flawlessly amidst humorous scenes poking fun at the silent protagonist angle. The biggest complaint I have seen arise is motion sickness, which I will admit I suffered from a little towards the end, but that may have been caused by the Pibb Xtra and Red Vines. Who knows. Another big plus is the soundtrack. The Biting Elbows, Naishuller’s own band, is among the line-up of great “Get Pumped” songs. I invite you to check out his first foray into this film style and one of The Biting Elbow’s popular tracks here.
Final Rating: Big Screen Worthy