Hardcore Henry (2015)
First they made him dangerous. Then they made him mad.
We've had an assorted set of movies as of recently, but I thought it was time to get back to the genre I know and love - some good old brainless action! Having heard of this entirely first person action flick from various sources, I figured "hey, that sounds like it should be some pretty brainless fun!" The question is, can a movie work with what some might call a video game premise (down to a silent protagonist) or will Henry have a hardcore faceplant?
We start with some kids smashing a toy robot against a wall.An adult comes into screen, causing them all to run, and he begins talking to the camera (which we will later figure out is actually a young main character). Things take quite the time jump after our opening credits wrap up, and we find ourselves in a strange tank. A woman walks over, and does a little bit of work on our face - apparently installing our eyeball back to where it's supposed to, considering the upgrade in visual clarity. After it becomes clear we starting to wake up, she drains our tank and starts filling us in on some things - mainly, our name is Henry, she's our wife, we seem to be having memory issues (and that's normal), and the next few bits are going to hurt a little, but that's normal too. Then she gives us a robot arm and leg to replace our missing ones.
It's pretty cool, what with robot arm-strength turning an apple into pulp quite quickly. It's then time that our doctor-scientist wife gets us dressed and takes us into the next room, where a few of her coworkers are jamming out. Strapping us into a machine, we find out it's time we get to pick our voice - although she's none too happy about them goofing around and telling us we should be Darth Vader. Unfortunately for us, some klaxons start ringing before we can make a choice, and as we stand from our chair the door blows in. Our main baddie and his goons waltz in, armed to the teeth, and start blabbering about and otherwise reveling in the quality of work that we are, getting the remaining scientist to explain just how banged up we were before magically lifting him into the air so he can stab him a number of times. It's pretty okay though, because our wife has an escape plan that manages to get us out of there.
That is, until we hit the ground and baddie's van posse roles up on us. Turns out, we apparently aren't very good at fist fights, and get ourselves tasered off of an overpass. Our wife is pretty well captured at this point, and we are doing what we can to not get brutally murdered by these goons, but some unknown man comes to our rescue with car and guns. He seems to know way more about what's going on than we do, so we ride along and find out our battery is getting pretty drained - oh the downsides of being a cyborg. A stop by the cops quickly goes south, and we find ourselves on the run after the manage to gun down our savior. Oddly enough, a homeless man approaches us on a bus we find to hide in, and seemingly is the same guy that we just saw gunned down. He's got a lab, and we need to find out what the heck is going on so we can go save our wife.
The plot, at a glance, seems super simple and straight forward. Indeed, as far as an action premise goes, it really is rather straight forward, but some of the science fiction elements it works in certainly take a few steps to make it more complicated than it sounds on paper. From the sidekick-like character that keeps reappearing just to die and reappear slightly different later, to the psychic (question mark) boss-man whose powers are honestly never explained. He just kind of has them, for whatever reason. It's much like Henry's history - outside of the scene of kids picking on and breaking his little toy robot so his father can give him a little speech to come in handy later on when we flash back to it, we just never really know anything about him. Indeed, it doesn't really matter as far as the plot goes - for the most part the only real important bit is that we are a cyborg now, and there's bad folks that need a beating.
Effects are pretty solid. Every now and then you'll certainly get something that looks a bit over-the-top and obviously computerized, but strangely even those things somehow still feel like they belong. Indeed, it might be the over-abundance of violence that almost makes it feel similar to the original Robocop when it comes to violence, feeling less realistic and more satire-like in an intentional way (although if anything, this strikes less as a satire and more of a proof of concept). What concept? That a game could easily be condensed down to a hour and a half movie and be entertaining. Heck, the main character is even silent the entire movie - which does lead to a few gags here and there.
When it comes to most of the humor though, it tends to be delivered from the side-kick type character that keeps popping up. There are a few visual gags here and there (such as hand gestures for the mute hero, or a funny bit of caption-fun during a scene after the "gentleman's club" scene). For sure, the widest variety of types is in that character alone - ranging everywhere from cracked-out sex addict to British-commando to hippie and punk-rocker. I mean, the character even has a musical number for whatever reason, and overall really ends up interjecting something to the movie outside of just the draw of action. To the point, the aforementioned British Commando-type was actually my favorite character in the entire flick. The soundtrack is there to get you pumping, although as with anything that uses Queen in their soundtrack, at least one song will end up stuck in your head to haunt you later.
This movie accomplishes what I can only assume is exactly what it meant to when it was getting made. Segments of parkour, action with guns and hands, a few jokes, over-the-top violence, and even a nifty effect when one of the cyber-eyes manages to pop out and we get this sort of split-picture await folks who want to watch it - but between the language, the violence, and the numerous topless ladies from the gentleman's club scene, it's definitely not one for the kiddos. Despite how well and stable most of it is, I'd also imagine that if a person is prone to getting motion sick, this one would probably be a no-go due to the perspective - but then again, there's motion sick people who can play first person games without getting sick out there, so I really guess that's gonna just be a "watch the trailer and judge for yourself" kind of thing. Beyond that, I enjoyed it's short and sweet setup.