‘Hardcore Henry’ delivers flaccid action, pacing


As a gamer, I bought into the idea that an entirely first-person action film could be good.

I still do, but “Hardcore Henry” takes this interesting idea and delivers a mediocre action comedy experience.

For all of its flaws, the film’s supporting cast is sublime. Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) steals the show.

As silent cyborg protagonist Henry fights his way across Moscow in a hyper-violent quest to recover his wife, he repeatedly encounters a man named Jimmy (Copley).

Every time the character arrives, he seems to be wearing completely different clothing and acts according to the stereotype associated with his attire (crazy conspiracy theorist, hot-to-trot secret agent, sassy SAS sniper), and each scene invariably ends with Jimmy being killed in some gruesome manner.

The question as to why there are an abundance of Jimmy’s who share a common memory serves as the only truly interesting plot point throughout the film. What few comedic or emotional scenes “Hardcore Henry” has are delivered when Jimmy is in the room.

The remaining characters and plot points are forgettable at best. I’ll be surprised if I remember the name of the main villain by this time next year, which is really saying something when talking about a white-haired supervillain who has the power of telekinesis (which is never explained for some reason), and a Russian-American accent dangerously close to Tommy Wiseau’s iconic drunken lilt.

Somewhere in “Hardcore Henry” there is a draft for an entertaining action-comedy akin to the 2007 Simon Pegg vehicle “Hot Fuzz.” The blame lies squarely with the film’s perspective.

It’s painfully obvious the film pulls heavily from first-person shooter video games as inspiration for its action sequences. Unfortunately, the process of lifting video game tropes wholesale and putting them into a movie doesn’t create a quality product.

Video games and movies have inherently different plot structures for good reasons. Games are interactive. Movies are passive. Pacing is inherently different between the two, but someone forgot to tell Henry.

I left the theater feeling more like I’d just watched a full playthrough of a video game on YouTube, not an actual film.

“Henry’s” worth your ticket price for Copley’s performance alone, but don’t go in expecting a life-changing experience.

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)