Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hardcore Henry

Henry was killed and then revived by his brilliant wife Estelle, but he has no memory of his life and can't speak. Just as she and her team are about to install his voice, Akan, a telekinetic psychopath, attacks and claims Estelle's research as their own. They make a daring escape, but she is kidnapped after a fiery crash landing. Henry vows to rescue her from Akan's disgusting clutches with the help of Jimmy, another enemy of Akan's with many copies of himself.

I wasn't expecting a lot from Hardcore Henry. The first person point of view looked interesting, but I fully expected a fairly mindless action film. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this film is well constructed and has everything I enjoy. It had me at the beginning credits where slow motion attacks are shown super close with a variety of weapons and their bloody aftermath. There's no preamble or explanation to the situation or world in the film. We know just as much as Henry knows which isn't much. Although he doesn't remember anything from before he woke up, he makes split second moral decisions, choosing to only attack those attacking him and trying his best to minimize civilian injuries and casualties. The villains are countless, led by Akan, a very easy to hate, disgusting, evil villain. The film goes breakneck speed with tons of violence, blood, gore, explosions, and tons of guns. The first person view can be disorienting, but it puts the audience right in the middle of the action.

Many of my favorite parts of the film are thanks to Jimmy, a paraplegic genius. He made numerous robot copies of himself that he controls, but he imbues with different personalities: nonviolent hippie Jimmy, punk rocker Jimmy, homeless drunk Jimmy, secret agent Jimmy, guerrilla warfare Jimmy, proper English World War II colonel Jimmy, coke and women enthusiast Jimmy, computer nerd Jimmy, and Frank Sinatra-esque Jimmy. He gives us a strong character to follow and a lot of the humor that Henry can't give us because we can't see him and he can't speak. In the middle of this tense situation with countless goons and violence, he breaks out into song and dance with his various avatars. He made me laugh a lot even before that, which breaks up the gloom and doom of the main plot.

I saw Hardcore Henry two times, one day apart in the theater because it was the most fun I had in the theater all year. All of my questions and concerns about the plot are addressed in the film except for one: how Akan got his power. This is covered in a graphic novel prequel. I can't stress enough how well made this is. The action flows seamlessly and the film is fast paced. You will never be bored and the ending is incredibly satisfying. This film didn't do well in the box office, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a cult following in the future and maybe a sequel (although I think it's a good stand alone).

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

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