by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
It takes a lot to be innovative in the action film genre. Most times studios will look at adding a complex story with nuanced characters to the exploding buildings and intricate death traps to seem like they’re adding a new wrinkle to a played out style of film.
But the new film Hardcore Henry, from Russian musician / filmmaker Ilya Naishuller, looks to jump on a different kind of bend – the first person POV action film. And while the action flick boasts some decent special effects and a couple of jaw-dropping action sequences it’s paper-thin plot leaves a bit to be desired.
The film puts you in the shoes of Henry, a man who wakes up missing a few limbs and all memory of who he was. After getting his arm and leg reattached our protagonist begins to learn the circumstances of his situation – mainly that his wife is working for Akan, a psychopath who wants an army of soldiers like Henry. In an ill-advised escape Henry’s wife is caught prompting the cyborg to try and get her back.
With the help of Jimmy (Shalto Copley), a chameleon of a man who has his own motivations for stopping Akan, Henry wages a one man war in an attempt to get back his wife and regain the life he once had (even if he would be living it as a half-man, half-robot super soldier).
Ilya Naishuller, who wrote and directed the film, does a respectable job for a first time feature film debut. The first-person POV angle is sure to wow many people, but I felt like it was akin to sitting there watching your best friend who is really good at video games play in a non-stop marathon. There were times when the action was intense and the fight scenes were just straight up balls-to-the-wall but you were kind of wishing you’d get a turn at the controller for a little bit.
While the film employed about a dozen stuntmen to capture Henry’s movements (including Naishuller himself), the real star of the film is Sharlto Copley. I can’t say too much without giving away major plot points (or the crux of what story there is) but he has a lot of balls in the air and he juggles them with deft skill. This might be his best performance since District 9.
Hardcore Henry is a decent enough popcorn action flick – even if it’s plot has less depth than a bottle cap and is predictable at points. Still, Copley’s performance is really worth watching and the action sequences will have you wondering if your watching a stuntman or the latest offering from XBOX or Playstation.