Remember this movie from three years ago? Cause I sure as hell didn’t. Not until I saw it sitting there on my recommended on Netflix and thought, “Eh, why not?”
I’m so glad I did.
I have not had this much fun with a movie since Deadpool 2. Not because it’s fantastic, but because it’s got two things: excessive, over-the-top entertaining violence and a clearly high amount of passion.
It also has a unique premise. See, this whole movie is filmed from the perspective of Henry. As in the first person perspective. As such, the whole thing feels like a Doom-style first person shooter game, and in the best way possible. Sure, it can be nauseating at times, but more often then not it helps the movie rather than hurts it.
Now, let’s start with the story, and be warned: there will be spoilers ahead. I know the movie’s three years old, but I’m a fair man.
Our story begins with Henry, our titular but mute character, being put back together (quite literally) by his wife, Estelle, before the psychotic and telekinetic (they never explain how he’s telekinetic, but this is a movie featuring psychotic cyborgs so who cares?) Akan arrives. The two escape, but Henry’s wife is quickly captured and he is quickly surrounded by his hired mercenaries.
Just when Henry seems fucked, a strange man named Jimmy arrives and saves him. They manage to briefly get away before… Jimmy dies and Henry’s set on the run again. He shakes his attackers and gets on a bus, where he’s confronted by… Jimmy, this time disguised as a homeless person. He pulls out a tracking device in Henry’s wrist before he’s burned to death by some fuck with a flamethrower, and Henry is once again on the run. This time, however, Jimmy gave him a goal: go and kill some fuck and pull out his power chord so Henry can charge up.
Henry does so and meets up with Jimmy at a brothel, where a stoned-to-all-hell Jimmy begins to treat him but quickly decides he’s in no shape for it. Henry begins having hallucinogenic flashbacks before Jimmy, this time dressed and acting like Mr. Rogers, charges him up and they need to escape the brothel, this time accompanied by two bad-ass blondes who will only be mildy important before they die in the next scene.
After some sweet action featuring a tank, helicopter, and Henry being rejected completely by a horse, he meets up with Jimmy again, who is now dressed like a sniper. They quickly rescue some girl from rapist cops before Jimmy takes him to his lab, where Henry meets the real Jimmy: a wheelchair bound scientist who uses his super tech to briefly transfer his mind into other Jimmy bodies, such as the Mr. Rogers Jimmy, the Sniper Jimmy, and the WW1 Colonel Jimmy, etc. Here, Henry discovers that Jimmy built the original prototype for Henry before Akan broke his spine, and Jimmy discovers that Akan has been tracking Henry the whole time via a broadcast in Henry’s head that he wasn’t aware of. Henry and Jimmy fight their way out and take the fight to him.
They travel to Akan’s tower, where after a brief but brutal action sequence, Jimmy reveals that Henry has a memory blocker in his head, which Jimmy then deactivates before dying. Henry’s true memories begin to return to him as he confronts Akan, who now has an army of super soldiers like Henry. Henry fights his way through them in one of the longest and bloodiest action sequences in the movie before Akan takes him down, and we get the final reveal of the movie.
As it turns out, Henry’s wife Estelle and Akan were in this together the whole time, and she was actually married to Akan since the beginning. They had used Henry’s awakening as a blueprint to completely control the other soldiers, which they reveal to Henry before leaving him for dead. For the first time, we see our titular protagonist’s face a shard of glass, before we get a flashback of Henry being taught a valuable lesson by his dad: you either suck it up or you kill the fucks who hurt you.
Henry chooses the ladder.
Wrapping barbed wire around his robot hand, Henry charges in for one last struggle and, for reasons that completely escape me, he pulls out his fucking eye (which happens a lot in this movie, and it always has this really cool split-visual effect that I liked a lot) which I guess he also wrapped in barbed wire, wraps it around Akan’s head and uses it to slice his head in two. He then goes to confront Estelle with half of Akan’s head, and with one final struggle, he throws her out of the helicopter and listens to her final scream as she falls to her death.
And then the movie ends.
I’m not fucking with you, I’m not leaving anything out, literally five seconds after dropping her out of the helicopter the credits start to role. I’m not going to lie, I actually cried laughing seeing this unfold. It’s so out of nowhere too, it’s just bang and then the movie is over!
Was it a perfect story? No. Was it even good? Barely. The acting was campy, with the only two good performances being from Sharlto Copley as Jimmy, who brings life to each and every one of his personas (spoiler alert he’s the best character) and the fantastic Tim Roth as Henry’s father. Both of these were very solid performances, even though the ladder only had about five lines in the whole movie while the former had the most lines in the entire film. Everyone else was only memorable because of how campy and cheesy they were.
Which if you know me, you’ll know I love campy and cheesy.
This movie was a ton of fun. The action sequences, while they sometimes got disorienting, were mostly solid, easy to keep track of, and super gruesome and fun! On top of that, the special effects were pretty top notch, with the only one I didn’t like being a weak CG shot super far into the movie. Aside from that, everything looked fantastic.
In the end, Hardcore Henry became a movie that I absolutely loved. I laughed harder than I have in a while, screamed ‘that was awesome’ more times than I have with any other film in recent years that I can remember. Ultimately, I had a super good time.
And isn’t that all you can ask for when watching a movie?
If I were to give Hardcore Henry a rating out of ten, it’s probably be around a 6.5/10. Not a game changer, not terrible, but just fun enough that I want to revisit it again sometime in the future.
Which I probably will once my head stops spinning.