Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hardcore Henry

   I don't get the Call of Duty comparisons. I mean, beyond the basic concept of the first person point of view, and shooting stuff... there's no similarities. I mean, I realize that basic concept was probably the entire point of comparison, but still. Hardcore Henry has more originality and personality than that comparison gives it credit for. I should put it out there right now that I really don't like Call of Duty. There's so many better first person shooter games out there, and if Hardcore Henry was a game, it'd be one of those better games. It's so mercilessly energetic and relentlessly fun. It gets quite a lot of mileage out of it's core gimmick, and at a breezy 96 minutes it's smart enough to not outstay it's welcome.

   But, seriously, there's quite a bit to discuss about this movie. Sure, it's a brainless action flick with a video game-esque gimmick driving the whole thing, but even without the FPS style, it'd still be a blast. It's thoroughly committed to shooting, stabbing, punching, and blowing up just about everyone and everything that comes into frame. It's also anchored by amazing fun performances from Sharlto Copley. Yes. Plural. Performances. I don't wanna spoil the specifics, but he has several different personalities in the movie. He's a supporting character not unlike one of those NPCs who guide you through the tutorial levels of a video game.

   When well written those characters can be pretty fun, setting a decent tone for the rest of the game. It's only too bad they usually aren't around more. Fortunately Copley's character is around for most of the movie, popping up when needed. He's so freakin' fun to watch. I feel like I'm repeating myself at this point, but whenever he'd show up in the movie I had the biggest smile on my face. Not to mention he carried a musical number by himself. Yes. There's a goddamn musical number in Hardcore Henry and it's amazing. The movie might seem rather by the numbers at first, but once it gets going it gets really creative, and not just with the violence.

   The whole movie is unabashedly indulgent. Slow motion, endless needle drops, gore up to your eyeballs, and enough bullets to make Arnold Schwarzenegger blush. It's a very colorful and stylish movie at that, but it's also really unique. The protagonist might not have a voice, and we never really get to put a face to his name, but that doesn't mean he's without a personality. His actions and reactions give him a very uniquely defined personality. He's a bit of a smart ass, but he doesn't over do it. He's fun, as much as one can be when the audience can never hear or see you. But, for what it's worth, it really does put you in his shoes. This is beyond the found footage genre, this is something else entirely. On that note, I do get the game comparisons, because what else are we even going to compare it to?

   It feels like the movie that this generation deserves and maybe doesn't realize it wants and needs. It's carefree and reckless entertainment. Constantly in motion, jam packed with action and violence, blazing a trail of chaos and carnage across the screen in sheer glee with nothing short of an ear to ear smile the whole time. It's frenetic and shaky, but coherent enough to let you get invested in the intricacies of the action sequences. Henry is an out and out killing machine who's inventiveness never failed to surprise me. I mean, at the end of the day, the movie is more or less what you'd expect. What you don't expect is how creative it gets with it's science fiction concepts. Some are explained, others are not. Which is fine by me. Refreshing even. But it's all weird, and not just weird, but like, silly-weird. In a good way.

   The movie feels vaguely like a Terry Gilliam flick filtered through a generation of FPS games by way of The Raid: Redemption, Crank and The Bourne Identity. With so much sheer action packed craziness, you'd be forgiven for missing the quirks and oddness of Hardcore Henry, but make no mistake... it is there. It's the subtle sarcastic and slightly satirical personality under the whole thing. Maybe I'm just reading into it, and it's brash and random for the sake of it- but the musical number was a stroke of genius, as are most of the humorous moments. It's a shame that all the delicious weirdness of Hardcore Henry will probably be lost on it's most obvious target demographic. Having said that, I loved it for what it is. It's still just a big ball of energetic, merciless, in-your-face, over-the-top, balls-to-the-wall, action. What more could you want?

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