Hardcore Henry - Blu-ray Review

'Regularly as boring as it is badly executed'.

What to say about Hardcore Henry. Well, it's a feature film in the technical sense of the word. Anyone looking for the basic elements you would assume go along with that, however - rudimentary craft, narrative structure, a character to invest in - will likely come away wondering just how writer and director Ilya Naishuller manages to reach a running time of ninety six minutes seemingly without giving any of these a single thought.

What Naishuller instead offers is a live-action attempt to replicate the experience of a first-person-shooter video game. That in itself isn't the reason that Hardcore Henry fails so comprehensively, however, but rather the consistently amateurish and idiotic manner in which the director executes his idea. Shooting entirely using head-mounted cameras from the point of view of the title character may in theory give Naishuller the video game style he's after, but in practice it's nothing more than a poorly-executed and literally nauseating gimmick. Does the world start to move around in front of you when you move your head? No, of course it doesn't. It's a simple fact which would have taken Naishuller seconds to realise had he bothered to put any thought into his film, before choosing to show the mute Henry nodding or shaking his head at a number of points throughout by moving the camera up and down or side to side.

To say that Hardcore Henry's limp plot also attempts to emulate that of a video game feels more than a little insulting to contemporary video games. The telekinetic powers of antagonist Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) are neither defined nor explained, apparently unbeatable until they just aren't any more. Sharlto Copley meanwhile adds yet another poor choice to his film career as the multiplicitous Jimmy, a role which essentially amounts to him dicking about in stupid costumes whilst adopting a series of equally stupid 'comedy' accents.

The film's running time provides little more than one amateurish sequence after another linked together by poorly written exposition. Whilst most are filled with gratuitous, headache-inducing action, Naishuller occasionally provides some variety by throwing in the occasional scene built around hackneyed misogyny. This, coupled with the director's video game and futuristic sci-fi influences, makes Hardcore Henry often feel akin to the Crank films, specifically Crank 2: High Voltage (which ranks amongst the worst films I've ever seen). What Naishuller doesn't have to prop his film up, however, is a leading man with the popcorn action chops of Jason Statham, resulting in an experience that's regularly as boring as it is badly executed.

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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