With Sharlto Copley, Andre Dementiev, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky, Tim Roth, Ilya Naishuller
Written by Ilya Naishuller, Will Stewart
Directed by Ilya Naishuller
Do you get dizzy easily, suffer from motion sickness, vertigo or similar effects? Tough shit! Suck it up and get your eyeballs onto Hardcore Henry!
This energetically frenetic first person point-of-view movie really deserves the oft touted cliche description of a "roller coaster ride" and slaps it into action with you along for the non-stop trip. Set in Russia, Henry awakes in a high tech lab with very little memory - he is filled in by a scientist that he is her husband and that he has been enhanced with various cyber limbs and parts, making him a powerful, unique individual. But the facility is breached by a telekinetic villain Akan (who becomes his arch nemesis). Henry escapes but his wife is taken hostage.
After a baffling confrontation with a set of Akan's private army, he is saved by a man (Copley) who keeps dying and popping up as different personalities to help him in his aggressive quest to save his wife! Henry's confusion and instinct leads him on a path of destruction.
On his constant barrage of henchmen annihilation he races over this Russian landscape across bridges, up the side of buildings, through brothels, on top of speeding vehicles, in motorcycle side cars, straight through villain's vans, even on horseback outside the city(!), punching, kicking, shooting and destroying his obstacles. A head-spinning, heart-racing blast.
Digital and visual effects are seamlessly integrated in the fast-paced action.
Movies with parqour elements have become a little stale, but here its excitement levels get reinvigorated by pretty much strapping you into the driver's seat.
Shot on a GoPro camera with a head-strapped rig, Hardcore Henry plays like a real time single sequence spanning across one day. It is relentless, it is invigorating and not to be missed. Yes, it is pretty violent and not for a younger audience.
With a modest budget, I'm curious to know what the Queen song "Don't Stop Me Now" cost them to use(!)
For the majority of his rise to fame, Sharlto Copley has been digging into the futuristic / sci-fi roles but here he's having a ball as he takes on at least half a dozen characters (and is of course an added cool kick to this movie for us South Africans), with a variety of British accents as opposed to his usual SA colloquialisms from Neill Blomkamp's flicks.
While this is the kind of movie you'll either love or hate, I think gamers may overwhelmingly fall on the pro side, the con end reserved for those who can't handle the movie's constant motion and violent energy.
With one of director Ilya Naishuller's producers in his corner being none other than Nightwatch and Daywatch producer-director Timur Bekmambetov, you can expect a movie that is unlikely to be boring! Just like his films, here the Russian locations add a great unfamiliar touch in stead of the usual American cities we're given in Western action films.
Where Mad Max Fury Road was hands-down my favourite action movie of last year, this is definitely my candidate for 2016 so far. If you want kick-ass fun, look no further than Hardcore Henry.
(If there isn't a video game tie-in for this, the filmmakers missed a golden opportunity).
5 / A
- Paul Blom
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