I’m fascinated by how the language of video games has begun to leak into filmmaking. As gaming has become more commonplace and mainstream, a new generation of directors raised with controllers in their hands have begun to blend the mediums. And you don’t just see this in big, dumb action movies – the stylistically ambitious drama Son of Saul bears a distinctive video game thumbprint, whether anyone wants to admit it or not.
But Hardcore Henry wears its video game influences on its sleeve in a huge way and it is very much a big, dumb action movie, albeit one of the more ambitious big, dumb action movies to come around in quite some time. A new trailer for this insane exercise in mayhem has arrived and it teases a movie that looks to be, for better and worse, unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Hardcore Henry (which was just called Hardcore when it made the festival rounds last year) is shot entirely from the first person POV of its title character, a mute, amnesiac cyborg who is brought back from death by his scientist wife. Things go wrong, the wife is kidnapped, and Henry must use his newly enhanced body to go on rescue mission that involves fighting his way through literal armies of criminals and mercenaries and what-have-you. It looks like it was a pain in the ass to make and the trailer utilizes a great Queen song. Oh, and there’s Sharlto Copley doing his Sharlto Copley thing. Where do we stand on Mr. Copley these days? Does anyone know?
Festival reviews of Hardcore Henry were mixed, with some critics praising its high energy, absurd action, genuinely impressive commitment to its central gimmick. Others dismissed it as vile, pointless trash made for pre-teens with too much Mountain Dew in their veins and too much Call of Duty on the brain. In any case, the film certainly looks fascinating – this is very much a product of right now. This movie simply couldn’t have existed a decade ago and it deserves a closer look.
Here’s the official synopsis:
Strap in. Hardcore Henry is one of the most unflinchingly original wild-rides to hit the big screen in a long time: You remember nothing. Mainly because you’ve just been brought back from the dead by your wife (Haley Bennett). She tells you that your name is Henry. Five minutes later, you are being shot at, your wife has been kidnapped, and you should probably go get her back. Who’s got her? His name’s Akan (Danila Kozlovsky); he’s a powerful warlord with an army of mercenaries, and a plan for world domination. You’re also in an unfamiliar city of Moscow, and everyone wants you dead. Everyone except for a mysterious British fellow called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley.) He may be on your side, but you aren’t sure. If you can survive the insanity, and solve the mystery, you might just discover your purpose and the truth behind your identity. Good luck, Henry. You’re likely going to need it…
Hardcore Henry will play at the SXSW Film Festival next month before opening on April 8, 2016. You can check out the new poster below.