|HARDCORE HENRY (director/writer: Ilya Naishuller; cinematographers: Seva Kaptur, Feodor Lyass, Pavel Kapinos; editor: Steve Mirkovich; music: Dasha Charusha; cast: Haley Bennett (Estelle), Sharlto Copley (Jimmy), Danila Kozlovsky (Akan), Andrey Dementiev (Slick Dmitry), Sveta Ustinova (Olga the Dominatrix), Tim Roth (Henry's Father), Dasha Charusha (Katya the Dominatrix); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Timur Bekmambetov, Ilya Naishuller, Inga Vainshtein Smith, Ekaterina Kononenko; STX Entertainment; 2015-Russia/US-in Russian and English, with English subtitles when necessary)|
|"The gore-filled visuals, which
might have amazed some techies, only gave me a
by Dennis Schwartz
feature director Ilya Naishuller is the
Russia-born writer and director of this gimmicky
videogame Robocop-like thriller. It's a film devoid of
logic, as it goes into overdrive as strictly a film
for gamers. To say it's a movie and not a video game,
is a stretch. The 30-year-old Ilya dives fully into
making this a rousing action fantasy sci-fi film, told
from the first-person perspective of its resurrected
from the dead subject. The camera, like in Lady in the
Lake (1947), provides all the P.O.V. shots.
pic is about the engineered Henry, a dead man
resurrected with no memory and voice, who must find
his identity and save his wife from a warlord villain
in the business of hatching bio-engineered soldiers to
rule the world.
film provides little dialogue, no character
development, no backstory or explanation for its
story. It was inspired by the director's musical
videos from his Moscow-based rock band Biting Elbows.
relentless violence over a newly created “cybernetic
super-soldier,” trying to save the world,
was not only a turnoff but the gore-filled visuals,
which might have amazed some techies, only gave
me a migraine.
Moscow lab, a former human named Henry, meant as a
stand-in for the viewer, has now been engineered by
his wife Estelle (Haley Bennett) to be a
But before Estelle escapes from the lab with her
refitted droid hubby, she's snatched by the albino
villain Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a terrorist
equipped with telekinetic powers he uses to
try to gain world domination. Estelle didn't have time
to implant hubby with a voice box, so he remains mute.
While Henry flees the scene, smashing all hostile
heads he encounters, the one-man army is chased by
Russian storm troopers. Everyone wants him killed. But
Henry is helped by his resourceful, chatty,
shape-shifter friend Jimmy (Sharlto Copley),
and gets out of street conflicts, an attack in a whore
house and tank fights.
The excessively violent sci-fi blockbuster was shot on GoPro mobile cameras. It is used mostly to film extreme sports, and the camera is placed on a helmet. Henry was played by a number of stuntmen and even Mr. Naishuller had a turn playing him.
REVIEWED ON 4/10/2016 GRADE: C-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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