Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hardcore Henry

3/4

Starring: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Hayley Bennett, Tim Roth

Rated R for Non-Stop Brutal Bloody Violence and Mayhem, Language Throughout, Sexual Content/Nudity and Some Drug Use

"Hardcore Henry" lives up to its name.  And then some.  Many action movies, such as "Sin City" or the Paul Walker thriller "Running Scared" have gone "over-the-top."  "Hardcore Henry" leaves them in the dust.  Not only is it told almost entirely in the first person, it contains a number of sensational action sequences that even in a normal movie would be impressive.

"Hardcore Henry" has a plot, although a thin one that makes no sense.  Twenty minutes into this picture I gave up trying to follow it.  All you need to know is that Henry wakes up and is suddenly a superhuman cyborg with no memory and a megalomaniac named Akan (Kozlovsky) wants him for his own ends.  His only ally is Jimmy (Copley), a guy who appears to know everything but keeps getting killed only to reappear alive again...sometimes moments later in different costumes (and personalities).

Most action movies have some sort of gimmick; a hook to bring in audiences.  These days it's raising the bar on superheroes or brand-name franchises, but before "Spider-Man" started the ball rolling summers at the multiplex were filled with movies like "Hardcore Harry:" energetic roller coaster rides where adrenaline replaces intelligence.  True, none of them were the equivalent of a live action first-person-shooter video game, but that's what technology gets you.

Is it possible to discuss the performances?  Not really.  The film doesn't slow down enough for anyone to act, much less create a character.  Sharlto Copley is having a ball creating various weirdos, ranging from a paraplegic to an 80's punk rocker with a penchant for bloodshed.  Danila Kozlovsky is more campy than threatening as a telekinetic villain, although in something this silly, that's an asset.  Hayley Bennett's job requires little more than being able to look attractive and scream.  And Tim Roth shows up for about 60 seconds total in two flashbacks.

"Hardcore Henry" is a bloody, brutal action movie, and after all the superhero pretenders that have dominated the market for the past decade and a half, it's refreshing.  This isn't just an R-rated movie but a very hard R rated movie.  Blood splatter is everywhere, body parts get severed, stabbings, throat slitting...hell, it's more violent than your average slasher movie.  But it has a morbid sense of humor that keeps things from becoming too grim.  It's like "Shoot 'Em Up" mixed with "Run Lola Run" and taken to the next level; when the lead character is standing on a truck and drops a grenade and you land on a motorcycle during the explosion, it's impossible to take any of it seriously.

This is heaven for action movie lovers.  Do yourself a favor and ignore the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader, and take this wild ride.

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