“Hardcore Henry” is like being in a teen boy’s wet fantasy. Female nudity, violence, gore, and no consequences are all included in this vomit-inducing ride of a movie. This is one mom might want to stay home for, as even the credits are splattered with blood. Yet despite the cynical darkness of the whole movie, the violence is accompanied by a soundtrack that includes pop hits from Queen, The Sonics and The Stranglers. Don’t know how to feel about a certain scene? Don’t worry about it. The music will guide you through the emotional kiddie pool that the story embodies—all while trying to shake the fun into you. The movie is so desperate to make sure you enjoyed the two hours of chaotic footage that it tries to beat the idea that you’re having a good time into you with the song “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen playing throughout the bloodier fights.
Meet Henry: a mute psychopath hell-bent on getting his wife back from the clutches of an albino man with an unexplained telekinetic power. See through Henry’s eyes as he shoots and sprints his way towards his past. Plagued with random flashbacks and an aggressive shaky-cam, he has to piece together his past so that he can secure his future. The only thing standing in his way of redemption is the mentally unstable Akan, whose sole purpose of existence is to make Henry’s life miserable in the creepiest way possible. Having a good time yet?
If the plot sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been reused and rehashed in every stereotypical action movie. Like many movies that have come before it, Henry has followed the gut-wrenching twists and turns of the Jason Bourne series. Henry is so much like Jason that I half expected Matt Damon to come busting through a window with a lawsuit in his hand. The only difference: Henry is half-robot…and willing to tear out his enemies’ innards with his bare hands. Don’t forget, we’re having a good time.
Despite the rather thrown together storyline, the movie is actually what it wants you to think it is: pure fun. Sure, it’s like having straight adrenaline injected into your neck, but I genuinely had fun while watching it. The movie portrays a world in which the good guys are inherently good, and the villain is so villainous that even his appearance screams “hate me”. There’s no thinking needed for this epic.
The first person point of view action is a new twist on a rather overworked genre, however without a story or characters worth caring about, it loses some of the thrill. The audience gets so distracted by the non-stop bloodbath they’re forced to witness firsthand that the characters’ reasons behind their actions slip through the cracks.
One of these lackluster characters is your sidekick and guide, Jimmy. Besides some colorful quips that include even more colorful language, Jimmy’s reason for existence is to help you get through all of the narrative with as much humor as possible. Upon first meeting this strange man he tells you that, in order to save your wife, you need to go break in to a Russian mobster’s house, “kill him, then open up his ribcage, take out his beating heart, and eat it.” Remember, we’re supposed to be having a good time.
While “Hardcore Henry” may be a step towards a world with virtual reality, there are still some major points that need to be met first. The whole movie ends suddenly and feels like a door being slammed shut on your fingers. But despite the plot holes, the movie’s video game-like dynamic is so engaging it leaves you wondering, ‘What just happened to me?’ As long as you don’t look too hard into the story or characters, you should have yourself a real good time.