Review: Hardcore Henry, B-
Rated R, 96 minutes
The dizzying, ultra violent and wildly entertaining new action film "Hardcore Henry" is a first-person action film, as imagined through the eyes of about 10 Red Bulls energy drinks, a gallon of coffee and a GoPro camera. Directed and written by Ilya Naishuller of the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows and produced by Timur Bekmambetov of "Wanted" fame, "Hardcore" aptly lives up to its name yet isn't for the faint of heart or those prone to get sick on a roller coaster or playing a video game, of which this resembles. Henry is a man resurrected from the brink of death as a cybernetic super-soldier who remembers nothing about his past. He is trying to save his supposed wife Estelle (Haley Bennett), who has been kidnapped by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) a powerful warlord with a plan for bio-engineering soldiers. With the help of his fellow cyber soldier Jimmy ("District 9's" Sharlto Copley), who takes different forms, Henry tries to avoid being killed while discovering the truth behind his identity. Shot almost exclusively on a GoPro camera, the first feature film to do so, "Hardcore Henry" is a hyper-paced, excessively over-the-top action movie that's sublimely headache-inducing. The editing, the music, the bloody, sometimes shocking visuals are all impressive for the low-budget movie (body parts go flying at an alarming rate) and an auspicious feature film debut for rock singer Naishuller, who directed several of his band's videos in the same first-person, GoPro format. Fortunately for Naishuller, "Hardcore's" exciting premise and hyper format take center stage, given its uneven, video-game style script and story are lacking in depth, with a muddled plot that's aided by a solid and funny Copley, who ably carries the film on his back, and a mugging but memorable villain in Koslovsky, who has a penchant for chewing on scenery. The darkly enjoyable "Hardcore Henry" does wear a little thin after awhile as you may grow tired of having your head spin in various directions, but one thing is for sure, it's hardly dull, and it passes by quickly. However, unless you're a glutton for punishment, I wouldn't recommend repeat viewings.