Hardcore Henry 2015 movie

Hardcore Henry – Fighting through the eyes of a cyber-soldier

A short while ago, I had written enthusiastically about the recent Fallout series, one of the few successful exceptions to the disastrous landscape of on-screen versions of famous video games that is also a very close theme of the 2015 movie we are about to discuss, Hardcore Henry.

What sets it apart from other similar movies is its unique approach and how it doesn’t reference any existing gaming brand. Instead, it’s a clear homage to a certain kind of first-person action video game, maintaining this perspective from start to finish.

It all begins with former soldier Henry returning to life in the hands of his sweet girlfriend and brilliant cybernetic scientist Estelle, who literally rebuilds him.

Just as she fits her boyfriend with arms and legs, but not in time to give him a voice to talk to, their lab is attacked by the mercenaries of the ruthless and completely insane Akan.

Many years earlier, Akan himself started this illegal project to create cybernetic soldiers even if, unfortunately, the procedure’s brain damage rendered them unable to withstand battle, making them dumb zombies unusable.

Thus, Henry is a valuable working prototype, but he manages to escape even though his beloved Estelle remains a prisoner of the enemy.

Fortunately, this super cyber warrior will not be alone in his endeavor, finding help in the many cyber clones of Jimmy, another brilliant scientist who has a score to settle and wants revenge on Akan.

Joining forces, Jimmy and Henry will have to claw their way through dead bodies until they reach the heart of the enemy’s headquarters, where the shocking revelation of an unexpected truth awaits them.

An amusing videogame to enjoy without a joypad

Personally, I went to the cinema in 2015 to see Hardcore Henry by accident, wanting to see another movie, but I came out extremely satisfied with the entertaining spectacle I had witnessed.

I admit that cinematically, there’s nothing mind-blowing, as I’ve seen other more intriguing and original first-person perspective movies, but this story managed to capture the video game lover in me since I was a kid.

For goodness sake, I have nothing to criticize the excellent direction of Ilya Naishuller, who also writes the screenplay, although he would have definitely convinced me much more in the later Nobody, a hilarious “aged” version of the famous John Wick.

As I said, the narrative escalation is just what we’ve come to expect from a video game, with our hero having to face increasingly stronger enemies and numerically inferior situations bordering on the impossible from time to time.

Explanations in the plot and characters are always minimal and inserted quickly between action sequences, yet the background always contains small clues to the direction we are about to take and always surprises us pleasantly in how we get there.

Naishuller has fun as a psychopathic child with all kinds of action scenes, from hand-to-hand combat to elaborate shootouts, chases on foot, by car or motorcycle, and even with tanks and helicopters.

Equally admirable is the incredible skill of the many stunt performers involved in the filming, including Naishuller, who donned the protagonist’s camera in several scenes.

So I can understand lovers of pure cinema finding themselves out of place in such a movie, understanding some not-so-positive reactions.

Still, for lovers of first-person shooters, I’d say it’s a must-see spectacle, and who knows, someday, maybe it will be a basis for a great video game as well.

A vertigo-inducing cast for breathless action

Ilya Naishuller directs and writes, and also portrays the main character, Henry, in several instances, performing the exciting stunt scenes alongside colleagues Sergey Valjev and Andrej Dement’ev.

There is not much more to say about the main character in the story since we live this experience through his eyes all the time, but the great athletic prowess of the stuntmen more than makes up for this lack, especially considering the movie’s strong action soul.

Instead, we can significantly appreciate the outstanding Sharlto Copley, divided into different versions of the same character, Jimmy, who remotely controls his clones while remaining safe in his secret headquarters.

Copley endlessly replicates himself in exaggerated versions as a dapper “James Bond” in a suit and tie as we see him at the beginning, a dirty, drunken bum, a cocaine-addled sex handle, or an infallible, silent sniper, just to name a few.

This multifaceted character guides us from the beginning to the end of this adventure, unraveling the mystery of a relatively easy-to-follow plot that manages to stay on its feet even with the narrative twists and turns in the finale, which changes its perspective.

As for the rest of the cast, we have the talented and beautiful Haley Bennett as a damsel to the rescue, who, counting accurately, we see only three or four times but handles to imprint as a pivotal character.

Far more, we get Danila Kozlovsky as Akan, a villain in great form with telekinetic powers (never explained, unfortunately, could have been interesting) and a strong streak and inspiration for highly dramatic cruelty.

Finally, although appearing for only a handful of seconds, the unerring Tim Roth, here as Henry’s father in a quick flashback to the protagonist’s difficult childhood, also makes his mark.

Despite some criticisms (when are they ever lacking?), Hardcore Henry was generally well-received in 2015, though it may not have had the visibility it deserved since, in the same period, I don’t recall so many other action movies that could have outclassed it.

Hardcore Henry 2015 movie
Amazon Prime Video
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