I don’t quite know what to think of Hardcore Henry, a sci-fi-ish action flick by first-time Russian writer/director Ilya Naishuller. On the one hand, it features a novel hook, some creativity and is never boring. On the other, it’s incredibly, gratuitously violent and seems designed for viewers afflicted with ADD.
Said hook is that from the moment the title character wakes up in a tank to the sight of a beautiful blonde scientist (Haley Bennett), and through his encounters with a telekinetic Russian baddie (Danila Kozlovsky) and various characters played by Sharlto Copley, we see everything from his perspective.
Naturally, such a conceit has the potential to wear thin very quickly, and I imagine that will happen with some viewers, especially those outside the target demo of video-game-playing dudes. I myself do not play video games, however, and managed to endure the first-person-player viewpoint just fine.
That I was able to is quite a credit to Naishuller and his crew, who come up with just enough different ways of showing Henry killing lots of people, and employ everything from guns and planes and tanks to horses and helicopters and knives. Their ingenuity almost makes up for the unabashed explicitness of the deaths.
Naishuller also comes up with a very clever way of using Copley, who displays some surprising range playing a stoner, a mohawked punk, a British WWII officer, and a sniper, among others. It provides the video-game-shallow proceedings with humor, and something resembling depth. From my point of view, anyway. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 7/26/16