This was hard film to watch.
It gave me a headache and the story itself was so stupid that my brain begged me to turn her off by the thirty-minute mark.
Before I tell you why you shouldn’t bother wasting time or money on this sci-fi action mess of a film, let me explain the potential it wasted.
Hardcore Henry begins with our protagonist, Henry, waking up in a lab. He has no memories, no voice and the scientist working on him claims to be his wife (Haley Bennett). Due to an accident, Henry is now more machine than man; his left arm and leg are just two of the several things that have been replaced with cybernetic counterparts. Before his wife can add an artificial voice box, a telekinetic madman named Akan (Daniel Kozlovsky) comes to take Henry away. Henry escapes but his wife, Estelle, isn’t so lucky. Now he has to stop Akan and get her back.
The novelty of Hardcore Henry is that the entire film is told in first-person. The audience is Henry, or at least that is what the film wants you to experience. Capitalizing on the popularity of first-person video games, Hardcore Henry is attempting to offer a different way to enjoy film.
It does not work.
As someone who loves video games and the incredible stories they tell, I was insulted. This film tries so hard to turn your brain to mush. Apparently, someone asked a group of horny, fourteen-year-old boys what they wanted to see in a film and decided that it was worth making. It is the embodiment of toxic masculinity and male insecurity, full of “no homo” and “don’t be a p***y” galore.
The actual plot makes no sense and the villain is insufferable. Why is it so hard to give villains motivations? Are their evil schemes intentionally convoluted so they fail? Moreover, Daniel Kozlovsky’s acting is so ridiculous that all his scenes were cringe-worthy at best.
To make it all worse, every female in this film is unnecessarily objectified. Because boobs. Women are only included to cause men titillation and pain.
Video games use tens of hours to develop characters, their motivations, and the stories that connect them all. They have told some of the greatest stories and created some of the most memorable characters of the last decade. Seriously, look up “Nathan Drake” and thank me later. Some stories may be predictable; others may not even make sense. But at least they are fun to play. And if not, no one plays them.
Hardcore Henry is a game no one should play. Not only does its story fail, it’s also painful to watch. The amount of effort it must have taken to film those action sequences is inconceivable, but I was unable to enjoy those scenes because I was forced to look away. The ongoing shaky camera will either give you a headache or make you nauseous. Thankfully, for me it was the former. Video games never cause such a reaction. Maybe its because I control where I look when playing. Maybe its because in video games the camera doesn’t shake, at least not to that extent.
Whatever the reason, the point is that Hardcore Henry is an incredible disappointment and discourages people from giving first-person storytelling a chance. Furthermore, any possible commentary it could have made of video games, masculinity and the first-person experience is undercut by its commitment to make this the worst film you will barely see.
Nothing can save it.
One last thing:
Henry is a Mary Sue.
Hardcore Henry was released on April 8, 2016.