“Hardcore Henry” is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a video game come to life. That is both its greatest strength and weakness. It’s a nonstop action, shoot ‘em up, parkour, superpowered extravaganza on Hulk steroids…It’s basically the Mountain Dew of movies.
What little plot there is can be easily broken down into bullet points.
•You’re watching the world through the eyes of Henry, a dead man reassembled and brought back to life as the ultimate cyborg supersoldier by your scientist wife.
•You’re being hunted by a superpowered albino villain who looks like he was rejected as a Die Hard antagonist.
•The constant chase scenes and shooting of nameless bad guy goons through Russia are broken up by your interactions with the mysterious Jimmy (District 9’s Sharlto Copley) who seems to be immortal as he constantly dies but comes back in a different persona.
•End game: Kill bad guy. Save girl. The End.
From a technical point of view, “Hardcore Henry” is a massive success. The stunt work and special effects that went into making this movie work are nothing short of incredible as the cameraman was more or less a stuntman wearing a GoPro. But unfortunately when it comes to story, its all style with zero substance. In fact this is an adolescent male power fantasy in its purest form. You’re an invincible badass who takes down countless bad guys to save the girl. You have your quirky sidekick who helps you on your journey. And all women are forced to the background or are reduced to sexy sex-things or trophies. (Pretty disappointing when you consider that last year’s Badass of the Year award unequivocally went to Charlize Theron’s Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road.)
While it was a very entertaining if not monumentally flawed action movie, there is just so little to the movie that I can’t ever picture myself craving a second viewing. However, if you do want to experience all the insanity, make sure you see it on a big screen. It is the type of film that almost encourages audience participation as it elicits tons of painful groans and surprising guffaws throughout its run time. Perhaps the only other way to possibly get the best experience of watching this film would be if the filmmakers translated it into a VR experience.
(Also this is neither here nor there but “Hardcore Henry” is pretty much exactly how I imagine it must be like to live in Russia.)