Classic Review: Hardcore Henry (2016)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “Hardcore Henry” which originally appeared here.

A man wakes up in a Moscow laboratory to learn that he’s been brought back from the dead as a half-human, half-robotic hybrid. With no memory of his former life, a woman named Estelle (Haley Bennett) who claims to be his wife tells him that his name is Henry. Before she can activate his voice, armed thugs storm in and kidnap her. As Henry starts to understand his new abilities, he embarks on a bloody rampage through the city to save his spouse from a psychopath named Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) who plans to destroy the world.

I will say that you’ve probably haven’t seen something like this before and probably won’t for a long time. You all probably already know what that is since it’s been in every trailer so far, it’s the first person perspective. Think of it as a video game and you’re playing, but not really playing, as the main character Henry. Just like most video games go, we are taken on an action-filled roller coaster ride for 96 minutes.

The story here is about a man named Henry who wakes up in a laboratory in Moscow and then discovers that he has been brought back from the dead as a half-man, half-robot hybrid. Now with no memory, a woman named Estelle (Bennett) claims that she is his wife and that his name is Henry. Before she can give him a voice, armed thugs arrive and then kidnap her. As Henry begins to learn his new abilities, he goes on a bloody rampage through the streets of Moscow along with a man named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who he runs into along the way to save her from a psychopath named Akan (Kozlovsky) who plans to destroy the world.

One of the worries I had going into this was that’s it’s first-person style would get repetitive and hard to follow after a while but I was happy that these weren’t as bad as I thought they were going to be. I did find the style did get repetitive at times with its use fight scenes. Sure they were cool and everything but after a while, some of them just felt gratuitous. I’m not trying to take anything away from them because they were fun to watch. They have to be commended just on camera-work alone as I often found myself wondering how they did that. I just thought they didn’t do the film any favors pacing-wise since they kind of took away from the story.

The other side to that is I’m sure that you’re not choosing this for the story as there wasn’t much of one here. We don’t really know how Henry got to where he did, we don’t know why Henry became who he became, we don’t really know much about any of the characters other than Henry or Jimmy. But that’s okay since the story is about Henry and the lengths he is willing to take in order to rescue Estelle. By great lengths I mean great because this film is violent, even more so than I expected (this film is rated R so why were they so low?). I won’t go into much detail but if you are sensitive in any way (or if the R rating hasn’t scared you away yet) then this may not be for you.

The acting here was okay but that’s not the main point here as it is probably not what you’ll remember the most about this film but what I think you’ll remember is Copley’s performance as Jimmy. Copley was great here in a role that we haven’t quite seen from him before, putting on multiple hats (figuratively and literally), all of them quality. He was fun to watch here as he just had great screen presence throughout as his personality made it so he was they only one you noticed most of the time. His interactions with “Henry” were entertaining and their bond, albeit one-sided, was compelling. I found Kozlovsky’s Akan a little silly but is not surprising based on the rest of the film.

Overall, this film was definitely an experience unlike no other but I just wish the first-person style could have meshed a little better with the story.

Score: 8.5/10

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One thought on “Classic Review: Hardcore Henry (2016)

  1. I’d really like to see this because as you’ve said, it’s like nothing else out there right now, but I’m worried that the first-person shooting style is going to give me motion sickness! That said, I’m sure it’s on Netflix or something similar by now so I just need to give it a try. Great review!

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