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Hardcore Henry
BLU-RAY disk
08.09.2016 By: Jason Adams
Hardcore Henry order download
Director:
Ilya Naishuller

Actors:
Sharlto Copley
Danila Kozlovsky
Haley Bennett

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
You’re Henry, a bionic man with enhanced abilities, a beautiful wife in peril, and an enemy with an army of bad guys coming for you. Now go kill everybody.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

I made it all the way through HARDCORE HENRY. There’s no better compliment I can give this movie, because based on the trailers, I honestly didn’t see how anyone could sit through 90+ minutes of this first person-POV flick—whether due to motion sickness or just flat out losing interest in what was clearly a gimmick. And there’s no doubt that the film is a gimmicky exercise, but there’s still some stuff here to appreciate, if not outright enjoy.

There are two reasons why HARDCORE HENRY works as well as it does. One is DISTRICT 9 star Sharlto Copley, who completely saves this movie all by himself. Copley plays multiple characters that constantly pop in and out of the first-person narrative (it makes sense when you see the film) and it’s a playground for the talented actor to showcase his range and have a blast doing so. Seeing him play everyone from a coke-fueled gangster to a stoner hippie to a World War II soldier, all within the span of minutes, gives the film the constant boost of fun and unpredictability it needs to keep from getting stale.

The second reason is that the film does indeed live up to the adjective in its title. HARDCORE HENRY is insanely violent and throws everything and the kitchen sink at the viewer. There’s fistfights, gunfights, car chases, tank chases, a psycho villain with telekinetic powers, and even a musical number—all filtered through the lens of the title character. The action and stuntwork is energetic and creative, often leaving you wondering how the poor cameraman/stuntman pulled off each shot. Making Henry an amnesiac bionic man trying to save his wife is just enough of a backstory to give the craziness some perspective and motivation (and also explain his superhuman abilities). It runs probably 15-20 minutes too long, but it feels like the closest thing to a CRANK movie we’ll get until CRANK 3. I’ll take it.

THE EXTRAS

I honestly can’t believe there’s no Making Of featurette on this Blu Ray. If there was ever a film that deserved one, it’s this

Commentary by director Ilya Naishuller: The director has plenty to say about the film, mostly about the technical challenges and execution, but also about the difficulties in pulling a feature-length experiment like this together and actually filming it. A solid listen if you’re interested in how they pulled this off.

Commentary by director Ilya Naishuller and star Sharlto Copley: Copley is really funny, but I wish they’d just added him to the first commentary. This track covers much of the same ground, with the added benefit of giving the director someone to bounce off of.

Deleted Scenes (7:58): Four excised scenes, mostly with just new action, but curiously there is something of an alternate ending involving Henry encountering the bad guy a little earlier. (The finished version is still better.)

Fan Chat (12:25): A Q&A with director Naishuller and star Copley where they answer questions from an audience. Most of the info is already covered in the commentaries.

A Digital Version is also included.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS

If you make it through HARDCORE HENRY without throwing up, it ends up being an entertaining filmmaking experiment with just enough creativity and technical skill on display to reccomend. I look forward to whatever Isla Naishuller does next.

Extra Tidbit: I couldn’t watch this without thinking of the video for Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up.” I was probably way too young when I watched that for the first time.

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