Hot Take: At least it didn’t make me vomit?
The first-person-shooter video game has really taken off since it appeared a quarter century ago. So, it was only a matter of time before Wolfenstein, Doom, Halo and Call of Duty eventually morphed into an actual first-person movie. Enter Hardcore Henry where, essentially, you are Henry. Hardcore Henry is basically an over caffeinated, ultra-violent theme park attraction in theatrical clothing.
The key to those theme park rides that put you “in the action” are their brevity. Henry is not brief. The only thing missing to truly make it feel like a video game is a body count tally as the kills (one more violent and ridiculous than the next) pile up. There’s a story in the film somewhere but it’s unlikely you’ll follow it completely or, if you do follow, care. Actually, it’s a lot like the cut screens in those first-person-shooters that you skip the second time you play through the game.
At least Hardcore Henry is different. Shot almost completely via GoPro (which has apparently caused some viewers to be sick), Henry is a novelty act. That act wears really thin rather quickly without much of a story to hold it together. There’s a neat little gimmick featuring a character named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) but even it runs it’s course. Near the end, the film receives a defibrillator-like jolt when Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Know” accompanies the fast-paced action. Unfortunately, we already saw this crazy action accompanied by the Queen score in the trailer and it’s not like this is much better.
I wanted to like Hardcore Henry, I really did. But there’s no excuse for making a poorly written, overdirected mess. It turns what could be different and unique into a parlor trick. What could have been innovative was just a big swing and miss.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Use of Queen
Queen on the big screen works really well. If you don’t believe me, check out the trailer to this movie or Suicide Squad or that opening scene from Wayne’s World, for that matter.
- There Is Some Pretty Impressive Action
Some of the imaginative action scenes are impressive. Unfortunately, the plot is thinner than store brand plastic wrap.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Unnecessarily Ultra-Violent
The violence in Hardcore Henry is on par with violence presented in a comedy satirizing violence in movies.
- So Much Unexplained and Eventually You Won’t Care
As the movie hits the ground running, there are things you’ll see that you wish were explained better. (Why does the villain have superpowers?) Eventually, you’ll give up caring and grow numb to the mindless plot and try and glean what little entertainment you can from the insane action scenes.
- It’s Like Watching Someone Play a Video Game You Don’t Even Want to Play
Game over, please!