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Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, AKAN, and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy, who is Henry's only hope to make it through the day. Hardcore takes place over the course of one day, in Moscow, Russia.
In a glittering world full of a bazillion similar films, film critics everywhere are always determined to find something different, something unique, something altogether 'special', but that doesn't always mean what they'll find is any good...not really. I've seen my fair share of great unique films as well as bad - but among the bad, you'll usually always be able to find a hint of something great that you kind of...have to respect, and 'Hardcore Henry' has that something - the real question comes down to - is that something significant?
A lack of story to pave way for non-stop action.
Folks, there is no story here. What they have instead is an excuse for the movie to simply exist. A reason for Henry to be on a warpath - and that is to save his wife that he barely remembers from a psychopath who has super-powers for some reason. The rest of it is video game stuff - here's where you need to go, and what you'll find waiting for you is more bad guys to kill, period. Why? Well, you see....because? This was never going to be a story or writing-centric film because it always wanted to be the baddest, most epic action film of all time, SCREW WRITING, YEAH! Well, guys...without writing you have something that is altogether silly and pointless - and I'm sorry to say this, but 90% of your movie feels utterly pointless.
GoPro first, ProduceAmateur second
Now, most of what goes into making this movie unique is its look and feel - and that is, first person. That's not to say this is the first found-footage movie that's ever existed, because it's not. But just as Paranormal Activity popularized the idea of found footage, Hardcore Henry may have just popularized the whole first-person narrative thing - but here's where that fails in the movie:
They go overboard on purpose.
The whole idea is to have a representation of adrenaline, so everything is sped up. The problem that creates is...even though I've never really had a problem with shaky-cam, I did with this one - because first person is already very, very unsteady - but when you speed that up, don't be surprised when the audience has a little trouble focusing on what's even happening....and don't be surprised when they throw up (I've read reports).
Quality vs. Quantity
I'm not entirely sure what this movie was filmed on, but it felt like a GoPro - which as much as it's technically "Full HD", it doesn't look like a movie you see nowadays because it isn't a powerful enough camera to take the light it captures and turn it into something special. Instead, it comes off as more amateur-looking than anything. Though to be fair, if you're making a true first-person movie, you probably can't make it look any better at this stage in the filmmaking process.
That being said, you can't deny that a lot of the stunt work this movie had was incredibly impressive - that is, when you understood what you were seeing. You just can't help but notice - no, it might not look the most professional, and the adrenaline might make you feel nauseous, but that's sort of what they were going for anyway - so even though it's something I personally dislike, I appreciate them for doing it.
A Jukebox of high-energy music montages.
I almost never mention sound or music in my review unless it, too, is almost a character in its own right. In the film, Henry cannot speak, so they fill a lot of the void with tech music and surprisingly older hits from back-in-the-day that match well with the tone of the film. For instance, the song 'Don't Stop Me Now' by Queen that is both seen in the movie and trailer is absolutely perfect for increasing action and believe it or not...violence - and while that song was playing, I was a happy camper.
The characters in this flick are flatter than a cat ran over by a semi.
Now, where the film does great, it also does poorly - and past the story, the real worst area the movie ran into was characters. I love Sharlto Copely, and he was by far the best part of the movie that added just another element of uniqueness and comedy...kind of saving it in certain aspects. The rest of the characters were downright awful, including Henry himself. Why? They simply have no depth. They might as well be 2D cartoon characters that you honestly don't care about because they bring very little to the story and you personally don't really care if any of them dies. Also, why does the bad guy have powers? Do we know? Nope. Thankfully, his character had no depth and I didn't really care that he had any powers or not - all you're watching the movie for is action...so there you go.
The enjoyment is in the action, that's it.
As per usual, I'll put it simply - this is an action movie plain and simple. You can't go into it expecting your usual actioner but rather something different...something you'll either love or hate. I personally thought the movie was okay in certain areas and not so great in the rest - and if I were to make a recommendation, it would be to other film critics and film critics alone.
Film critics can respect a filmmaker's attempt at creating the new and unseen. A bold decision, to be sure, but not one that wins with the masses - and in this case, one that doesn't even really win with me either...but in the end, I can at least give it props for doing something inventive. There has never been a movie like this before, and I seriously doubt there'll ever be one like it again, so get it while it lasts.
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