Innovative filmmaking, subpar everything else. So this is about a man named Henry. He’s half-man, half-machine, and we see the world from his eyes as he tries to prevent a man with psionic powers (Danila Kozlovsky) from taking over the world via a race of engineered super-soldiers. Now I was actually intrigued by this movie, but I could see it going either way; this could have possibly been one of the coolest movies out there that went into my rotation of frequently watched films, but I could also see it being brainless, leaving me scratching my head. Let me start this review off by saying that I am sorry that I paid money to see this in a theater. I was hoping this would be something I could have fun with, but that never happened. For something that is so ridiculous, it is my opinion that this should have had a way more humorous tone.
I suppose they thought Sharlto Copley doing a tribute to Dana Carvey’s The Master of Disguise was going to be enough, but you’d be surprised.
Now you are probably already aware of the big gimmick that got my butt into a seat: this is entirely shot from a first person point of view. You never get to see a clear shot of Henry, and because of a small plot point at the beginning, he doesn’t even have the ability to talk. Now you could make the argument that my expectations on this got in the way, but here is what I was hoping this was going to be: a POV version of Crank. Something not afraid to get over-the-top and insane, but still have enough charisma and a sense of humor so that it is easy to enjoy. Maybe if Neveldine and Taylor had directed it, my tune would be different, but this is a movie that takes itself way too seriously. I mean really, this is the equivalent of watching all of the cut scenes from a video game, only you don’t get to feel that sense of accomplishment when you successfully pull off something cool. And as simple as the story is in Crank, there is at least a story. There’s nothing here, you only get to the next “level” to do the next scene while Sharlto Copley plays these difference characters; there’s even motivation done via telephone, where Copley tells Henry: “you need to focus and go here”, GPS coordinates are sent, and that’s it. Add in the fact that this is perpetually trying to shock you with grotesque violence effects, and you’ve got a movie that reeks of immaturity, even for what it is.
The only thing Hardcore Henry has going for it is the filmmaking itself. This was sold as being a Bourne movie meets The Raid meets Call of Duty, and they do some pretty incredible things with the camera to stay within the guidelines of the gimmick. It’s some guerrilla filmmaking, so I can at least give it a little bit of credit there. I was just so turned off by everything else this was doing, and I was hoping it would reach a point where I resigned my better judgment and become won over, but that moment never came. The story is glaringly thin, and it feels like this was made by a little kid obsessed with violence, hell-bent on getting some sort of reaction out of you. This is the worst movie that I’ve paid to see in a theater in a long time, and it instantly gave me buyer’s remorse, making me wish I had waited to see this on the home market.
Hardcore Henry (2015) **
– Critic for Hire