It’s a general rule that movies that focus on adapting a video game style and/or commenting on video game tropes (i.e. Edge Of Tomorrow or Scott Pilgrim) usually turn out a better experience than movies based on actual video games (i.e everything) but first person murder-gasm Hardcore Henry is a more curious beast.
Seemingly filmed under the pretence that just because no one’s thought of this idea before it just HAS to be amazing, what we have here is a movie that generates many different emotions.
Firstly is the opinion that this is tasteless gimmicky horseshit. On first glance this appears true. No plot, awful performances, moral free action scenes, meaningless gore, all are present and correct and the whole enterprise seems aimed at the six people on earth who thought Crank 2 was too far left wing and Gamer too cerebral.
For the vast majority of you, this is all you need to know and you might as well stop reading here (please don’t, I need views!) but for the rest of you who persivere and have a decent to high knowledge of video game quirks, something rather odd happens.
Hidden under Hardcore Henry’s bombastic, if rather dim exterior beats the heart of a fairly savy arcade pastiche that revels in the plot clichés that litter the limited plots of various button bashers.
As most video games concentrate mainly on frenetic incident with occasional breaks of plot so does this movie, dropping in various “cut scene” style drips of dialogue from Sharlto Copley in multiple (different character skins?), progressively lunatic roles (furiously attempting to out Nicholas Cage’s entire career in a single film) that only serve to steer Henry on to the next task/action scene. The plot is pure eighties beat ’em up (wife in danger, kill everything to get her back), the telekinetic villain complete with bleach blonde floppy emo fringe looks like he has stepped out of a Resident Evil end of game boss fight and there’s even a scene at the beginning as Henry adapts to his new limbs. There’s a car chase involving a minigun on a motorcycle side car that feels like it’s on rails (gaming term), a sniping section complete with a COD:MW camouflage outfit and a section where a building has to be cleared of bad guys in the time it takes for an unfeasibly slow lift to decend. In fact, and maybe I was imagining it but I could have sworn the climatic rooftop scene was the same rooftop in zombie shooter Left 4 Dead right down to the white vantage room with the green locker filled with guns.
So… There’s stuff here, but it’s buried deep.
Technically, you gotta give the film makers props for actually pulling the first person gimmick off, the soundtrack is witty and it’s wackyness occasionally pays dividends (I seen a lot of strange shit but watching Henry use his optical nerve to strangle someone was a new one on me) but overall, it plays like Wreck It Ralph for middle age guys still living in their mum’s basement. Which thankfully (somehow) I am not.
Stupid trash good for one viewing.
No extra life here…