We’ve all seen movies based on books, comic books, and TV Shows. But when’s the last time you saw a film that was inspired by a music video?? Yes, “Hardcore Henry” was spawned from the success of Biting Elbows “Bad Motherf*cker” music video. Perhaps even more surprising, this movie is great! Not in a Citizen Kane sort of way, but in a no-holds-barred, adrenaline junkie, thrill-ride way.
There’s been an interesting trend recently where amazing opening credit scenes foreshadowed an equally impressive film. The under-appreciated “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” was the first notable one of 2015, followed by “Deadpool” and more recently “Batman V Superman.” (OK, that one is debatable.) “Hardcore Henry” certainly continues this trend with perhaps the most violently graphic (and oddly satisfying) that we’ve ever seen. Tinted in blood red we see someone on the receiving end of multiple mortal wounds in extreme slow motion. It’s a great precursor to the next 90 minutes of insanity and quickly purges the audience of anyone who stumbled into the wrong theater.
After the opening sequence, the entire film is shown from the (sometimes detached) eyes of the mute, cyborg Henry (uncredited!). He is brought back to life by his devoted wife Estelle (Haley Bennett), a scientist whose cutting edge biotechnology is funded by a cruel and powerful villain. Once the psychotic and properly melodramatic Akan(Danila Kozlovsky) makes his appearance, the action rarely takes a breath.
As implied above, this film is certainly not for everyone, and it’s certainly not high-brow material. The writing isn’t amazing, but serves its purpose and has more than a handful of clever lines. Sharlto Copley is clearly having a blast in his multiple roles as “Jimmy”, a man who may or may not be helping our hardcore hero.
The real star of this film isn’t Henry, Sharlto, or the Tim Roth cameo, it’s the action and editing. Once the first person gimmick wears off, it becomes clear how incredible this film is. While much of it is clever editing, some sequences defy all logic and exist firmly in the realm of movie magic.