Action Adventure

'Hardcore Henry' Blu-ray Review: A hardcore mash-up of comic book action and first-person shooter

July 18, 2016Ben MK

A live-action first-person shooter like you've never seen before, Hardcore Henry places viewers in the boots of its titular protagonist, a man who is now more machine than flesh and blood. Retrofitted with cybernetic limbs and a battery pack to replace his once-beating heart, Henry awakens to find his memory erased and himself part of an experiment to create an army of superhuman soldiers.

The good news: the experiment was a success. The bad news: a megalomaniacal, albino telepath named Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) wants to use said army to take over the world. Now it's up to Henry to stop Akan and his over-the-top plans for world domination, if not for the good of mankind, then at least to rescue his wife Estelle (Haley Bennett), whom Akan has kidnapped seemingly just to piss Henry off. Luckily, Henry will have a little help from the mysterious Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), a man who has a knack for being virtually unkillable.

Needless to say, the result is one of the most flat-out insane cinematic experiences you may ever have; and it's one that maintains its breakneck pace almost from start to finish, save for its somewhat chill main titles and an opening sequence reminiscent of video game tutorials. From there, however, the movie barrels ahead like a speed-run through the latest "Call of Duty," as Henry racks up enemy kill after enemy kill, shooting, stabbing and blowing up everyone and everything in his path, whether it's a van, a helicopter or an apartment building full of bad guys.

Written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Ilya Naishuller, Hardcore Henry also perfectly captures the tone of sci-fi films from the '80s and early '90s. However, what will draw most viewers to the film is its wall-to-wall ultra-violence. Make no mistake, this is an experience that shows no mercy to the squeamish. But if you can stomach the gore and the head-spinning visuals, Hardcore Henry is simply pure popcorn fun.

Shot primarily with GoPro cameras, Hardcore Henry has a definite low-budget feel about it. That being said, there is beauty to be found in the orgy of blood and carnage that fills virtually every frame, for even though image clarity and black levels tend to vary from scene to scene, color saturation appears healthy, and instances of banding and the like are virtually undetectable unless you freeze-frame the picture at key moments. As for the audio, the disc sports an aggressive Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that does a superb job managing the film's chaotic sound mix, which consists of a throbbing electronic/hard rock score, English and Russian dialogue, and a cacophony of gunfire, ricocheting bullets and explosions, not to mention all manner of blunt-force impacts.

VVS' single-disc Blu-ray release includes the following extras:

  • Fan Chat (12:25) - Actor Sharlto Copley and writer/director Ilya Naishuller answer a series of questions about the film, as posed to them by fans on Facebook.
  • Deleted Scenes (8:13) - Four scenes ("Underground Parking Garage Fight," "Sniper Jimmy's Elevator Joke," "Henry Shoots Mercenary" and "Akan's First Death").
  • Feature Commentaries - In this commentary track, recorded two weeks prior to the film's theatrical release, writer/director Ilya Naishuller and actor Sharlto Copley discuss the actors' performances, the POV camera work, the visual effects, the action sequences, the cameos, the video game references and more.

Hardcore Henry is available from VVS Films as of July 12th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 36 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on April 8th, 2016.

You May Also Like