To do HARDCORE HENRY the justice it deserves, I’m writing this review in two parts. First, I’ll tell you about my experience with it, and then I’ll explain why some people might love it. Because although I didn’t love the movie, there are absolutely reasons why other people probably will. It’s not for everyone, but I know there’s a market for it.
I never walk out of movies early. I just don’t do it. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m good at predicting when a movie’s going to be terrible so I can avoid it, or whether I’m just an optimistic movie-goer who’s always willing to stay to the end to see how things finish out. But I walked out of HARDCORE HENRY, and it wasn’t because it was a bad movie.
Normally if I didn’t finish a movie, I wouldn’t give my opinion on it, but here, I’m going to. To fully understand why I walked out and why I still have a valid opinion of the movie, there’s something important you need to know about HARDCORE HENRY: The movie is filmed in the first-person perspective, as if they put a camera on the head of a stuntman and had him run around. In the age of GoPro cameras and dashboard cameras increasing in popularity, it’s a smart idea to try a movie like this. With over a decade of successful first-person video games, I’m surprised I haven’t seen this before.
And yet, the camera work is so frantic and jerky, I got motion sickness. Now, granted, I get motion sickness on boats and with SOME (not all) first-person video games, so perhaps if you’re reading this, you’ll have no problems following the action. There were probably 30 people in the theater with me that night, and I don’t think anyone else left. But I had to, not because of the content of the film, violence, or anything due to the plot. Even after a 15 minute drive home and an hour sitting on the couch, I still felt sick to my stomach and slightly disoriented. Not a pleasant feeling.
But in terms of what I saw, there was a considerable amount of quality. The opening credits of the film, though ultra violent, were very stylistic and set an interesting tone. And once the film began, the special effects were really good. The science fiction elements involved in building the main character into a partially bionic man were interesting, well-imagined, and executed nicely.
Reviews I’ve seen are mixed. I can understand where people can appreciate the movie for the novelty of what they’re attempting, but I’m not surprised that the portion of the film that I saw didn’t evolve into anything of considerable substance. Perhaps someday I’ll give the film another viewing, this time on a smaller screen, but I’m not expecting much. A film that makes some of its audience ill due to motion sickness is one which doesn’t lend itself to a vast audience. At best, I’m seeing an average film from an interesting concept, but it gets down-graded because they didn’t address the frantic and jerky nature of the camera work, which was a huge problem.
My rating: 35 out of 100