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Hardcore Henry Review

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MINOR SPOILERS.

If you go see “Hardcore Henry” and describe the effects as “dizzying,” that’s probably just the motion sickness. Describe it as “nauseating?” That could just be the astronomical and sanguinely graphic body count.

Taking a page from modern first-person video games, the audience experiences the film through the eyes of its protagonist “Henry,” a man who awakens in a kind of amniotic fluid-filled tank, voiceless and with no memory of his past life. As the beautiful doctor attending him, Estelle (Haley Bennett, who could almost double for Jennifer Lawrence) replaces his missing limbs with cybernetic ones, she explains his missing memories are normal for his condition, that her research has brought him back from his traumatic injuries, and as she hands him a wedding ring— that she’s his wife.

Their happy reunion is short-lived however, as creepy-eyed albino villain Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) crashes the party before Henry’s new voice modifier can be installed, killing a technician and sending Estelle and Henry fleeing. Shortly after, she falls into the clutches of Akan’s paramilitary force, and the cybernetic amnesiac finds himself in the midst of a cat-and-mouse game in an enigmatic and unfamiliar Russian metropolis as he attempts to find both her — and himself.

But Henry is not without allies: a mysterious Englishman named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) comes to his rescue during a firefight at just the right time to save him.

“It’s all right, I’m here to help you…is your speech module installed?” asks Jimmy.

The camera shakes its head no.

“Well, at least we know you’re not deaf.”

Giving Henry a celphone with a location indicated on it, Jimmy explains that Henry is running out of battery power — he’ll have to acquire a new power source to keep going on his bloody mission of vengeance. The next hour is virtually non-stop action, with Henry racing from one destination to the next, step by step making his way towards his kidnapped wife and the mystifyingly powerful Akan, with continual assistance from the mercurial Jimmy (who appears in myriad forms throughout the film.)

“Hardcore Henry” is exactly what’s advertised — an adrenaline-fueled, testosterone-laced, first-person thrill ride. Nevertheless, the main problems with the movie are two-fold: the cinematography, though innovative (making use of a face-mounted GoPro camera rig,) is jauntier than even that classic of bad B-movie horror, “The Blair Witch Project” (those who get seasick easily may want to skip “Henry” on the big screen); and at some point between all the massive gunplay, spouting blood, severed limbs and blown-apart torsos, even the most battle-hardened gamer has to ask — how many gory, grisly, gruesome ways can you kill a man? “Hardcore Henry” does its best to find a definitive answer and exploit them all, even inventing a few new ones in the process (one of the last kills of the film is truly like nothing ever seen before on celluloid.)

Though certainly not for everyone, some will find “Hardcore Henry” to their tastes (it wouldn’t be surprising to see the film gain a cult following, particularly among those with a strong stomach.) Action-packed, brutal, and unapologetically non-PC, “Hardcore Henry” is a shot of adrenaline to your eyeballs. “Hardcore Henry,” Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett and Danila Kozlovsky star in this first-person action flick, chock-full of bullets, bombs and blood. Rated R for non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use. Two and a half stars.

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About: Thom DeMartino II

Thom DeMartino II

Thom deMartino II is a freelance writer and student journalist. He was recently honored by the Journalists Association of Community Colleges with the 2016 award for Best Critical Review. He is also a part-time MC, DJ and dabbler in the magical arts, having studied at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood a dog's age ago. He also has the occasional, infuriating habit of speaking in the third person.

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