Hardcore Henry | Review

Kernel Blake reviews the first complete movie shot from the first person perspective, HARDCORE HENRY. GoPros are basically stuck to the head of the main actor and you see and do everything he does, just like you can in some games. Think Hit Girl going mental at the end of KICK ASS. Thanks to Playmaker Digital and Roadshow Films for providing us with a copy to view and review, I am sure you have made Blake’s week haha. HARDCORE HENRY is out now on DVD, Blu Ray and Digital, it is rated R18+ and runs for 96mins. Be advised if you experience nausea in shaking hand held camera work this is exaggerated first person and made Blake felt nauseous. Enjoy Blake’s love for the movie…….all the best…..JK. 


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Do you like feeling nauseous? Love motion sickness and headaches? Are you a fan of not knowing what the hell it is you’re actually watching? Have I got something special for you! Presenting HARDCORE HENRY, the world’s first feature length action movie filmed entirely in a first person perspective (FPS) and sure to induce the aforementioned symptoms.


Plucked, seemingly, from the fever dream of a thirteen year old boy on a sugar high, HARDCORE HENRY is a more insane version of the film, CRANK, if it were all seen through the eyes of the Stath’s main character. However, the filmmakers seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of how the human eye actually works inside a head. Fore example, being able to move in its own socket, if you shake your head you can stay focused on an object. As such, you spend the entire movie trying to figure out what is actually happening on screen through an overuse of shaky GoPro cameras strapped to someone’s dome.

As far as story goes, HARDCORE HENRY doesn’t really have one. What we are presented with, is basically a live action version of popular first person shooter video games, such as CALL OF DUTY or DOOM. Which incidentally, had a FPS scene in its own live action adaptation that also didn’t work. Basically the film starts with Henry (the audience) waking up in a lab, sans a few limbs and being attended to by your seemingly loving wife.


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With no memory and no voice (your voice modulator has yet to be installed), your wife/doctor Estelle (Hayley Bennett, THE EQUALIZER) attaches cybernetic arms and legs to your torso moments before the lab is attacked by nefarious bad guy, Akan (Danila Kozlovsky, MANY RUSSIAN FILMS). We know he’s a bad guy because he has bleached blonde hair and eyebrows, as well as telekinetic powers for reasons that are never explained. A common thread in HARDCORE HENRY.

Escaping the attack on the lab, you/Henry and your wife make a run for it before being subdued by Akan’s paramilitary force, where Estelle is kidnapped and Henry is left for dead. Again, no reasoning is given for why Akan and his cronies are chasing Henry and kidnapping his wife other than to give Henry reason to go through Russia, obliterating 1/5th of the world’s population in an attempt to save his beloved.


It is here we are introduced to Jimmy (Sharlto Copley, DISTRICT 9), a welcome bright spot in this otherwise disorientating mess of a film. Jimmy is your guide through the various ‘levels’ of the story, again playing out like a FPS videogame, there’s a car chase level, an escort mission, a sniper section etc. Jimmy provides Henry with some vague answers as to his existence and offers up a way to help, all the while constantly being blown to smithereens in inventive ways before reappearing in the next scene. Like I said, very little makes sense here initially.


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As the film progresses and the nausea and headaches increase, so does the body count, as Henry works his way through hundreds of Russian goons. To the filmmakers credit, there are some impressive set pieces and stunt work as more and more people cease to exist in spectacularly gory ways. That is, when you can actually see what is happening.


It’s very hard to recommend HARDCORE HENRY. Admittedly I watched it on a reasonably small iFruit product where the haphazard camera work was exacerbated and may work better on a larger screen, but that’s unlikely. First time director Ilya Naishuller, who first ventured into this type of movie with the music video for Russian group Biting Elbows, should be commended for trying something new and innovative, however what worked in a five minute video clip just doesn’t translate well to a feature length film.

Yes, it has some interesting and sometimes exciting action scenes but the overall unpleasantness of sitting through it takes away any real enjoyment of watching the film. Some have made the bold claim that HARDCORE HENRY is the best action film of the last few years. All I have to say to that is, go watch THE RAID 2 and try to tell me HARDCORE HENRY is better than that masterpiece. Hell, even CRANK is a more entertaining vision of a teenaged fever dream.


2 Pops




Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life, like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. Can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.


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