Directed by Ilya Naishuller
Country: Russia / USA
“Hardcore Henry”, the super-violent directorial debut feature from Ilya Naishuller, is a pointless silliness that received wide acclaim in Russia, its origin country.
Mr. Naishuller moves in every direction – sci-fi, action, thriller, horror, and even war – trying to convince us of his capabilities through the creation of anarchic scenarios and the manifestation of pseudo offbeat attitudes. Sadly, the best he could do was turning this dystopian nonsense into a terrifying bad movie.
The story is totally told from the perspective of Henry, whose eyes we never see because they are represented by the annoying handheld camera that frantically moves and zooms around.
When Henry wakes up in a space lab’s water tank he can’t speak or remember how he got in there. Estelle (Haley Bennett), the scientist who’s replacing his limbs and reconstructed his body after a harrowing accident, says she’s his wife. All of a sudden, the lab is attacked by a telekinetic villain, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), but the couple manages to flee, landing in Russia where more mercenaries are waiting for them.
Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) is an enigmatic British ally that rescues Henry while Estelle can’t help being kidnapped by Akan’s persistent troops.
As a man of many lives, Jimmy is permanently in contact with death. Thus, he wants to make sure he gives the right orientation to Henry, who must find a man called Slick Dimitry and take his heart since it contains the fundamental charging pump that could keep him alive.
He sets off on an excruciating journey with a triple objective: to prolong his life, rescue his wife, and exterminate the enemies.
The film shows an uncontrollable eagerness in shocking us through savage acts perpetrated by the despicable characters. It uses and abuses of chaotic situations that are often accompanied by a hardcore musical score (just to match its title).
Parched in terms of message and tastelessly directed, the barbaric “Hardcore Henry” feels gratuitous in its brawls, disorganized in its structure, muddled in its storytelling, and compromising as an entertainment.