All I have to say is thank goodness “Hardcore Henry” bombed, even after its unique publicity campaign. I’d really hate to have five other movies out there in theaters trying to copy this wretched movie’s formula. “Hardcore Henry” isn’t even really a movie, as it has no narrative, zero characterization, and is essentially just a series of cut scenes from a video game meant to evoke the fantasies of fourteen year old boys with rage issues. The plot, I use the term loosely, feels like a concept for an NES game in 1991, where LJN saw “Robocop” and decided to create their own clone. “Hardcore Henry” is essentially like watching someone play a video game.
At first it’s a novelty then it becomes incredibly monotonous. Even with director Ilya Naishuller putting our hero through the wringer as he pulls out people’s intestines, battles a flame throwing assassin, and watches soldiers bounce from grenade explosions, I was bored by it all. It’s not so much that the movie is so fast and relentlessly loud, but it’s too fast to the point where the running, chasing, fighting and explosions become so repetitive. I eventually began to grow so accustomed to exploding heads, and bodies being thrown off buildings, that I was wishing for one moment where characters would sit down and explain something, or discuss a bit of exposition that didn’t sound like video game instructions.
To make the events so dull and miserable, character Henry conveniently has no voice, making him easily the most paper thin action hero in movie history. Without a personality, emotions, a voice, or even occasional glimpses at his face and reactions, all we’re left with is a stale attempt to turn the viewer in to some sort of avatar for an action hero who is indestructible and blowing people up left and right without consequence. It doesn’t help that the movie seems to realize it has no story of substance and leans heavily on long drawn out action and weak moments of suspense. The further Henry flees from the super secret cyborg making organization led by the albino psychic mutant guy, the less sense the movie makes.
We all know the minute we see the group of undead cyborgs that Henry will have to fight them all at the same time to get to the final boss of the movie, so why should we even care about why they were invented, and what threats they serve? “Hardcore Henry” is a miserable, and tedious gimmick that feels like cut scenes from a stale Sega CD beat em up game, spliced together to form a limp cinematic experience. It’s a cheap, shallow gimmick that I’m glad failed, and it’s one I hope never catches on.
The Blu-Ray release comes with a Digital Copy. We’re given four deleted scenes emphasizing Henry’s battles, and a twelve minute fan chat with supporting actor Sharlto Copley and Writer/Director Ilya Naishuller, both of whom answer fan questions. Finally there are two audio commentaries. There’s one with Director and Producer Ilya Naishuller who covers the movie in very fine detail including the pacing, visual effects and much more. The second audio commentary features Director and Producer Ilya Naishuller and Star and Executive Producer Sharlto Copley, both of whom cover the same line of insight and details from the first commentary, with Copley adding his own interplay.