What is there to say about Hardcore Henry? If I had to describe it in one sentence I'd say, "ridiculousness verging on masterpiece." Henry is just too much of everything all at once that you become desensitized before making it midway through the film. The video game aspects are too obvious to ignore, to the point that the film feels like a satire of modern gaming.
Hardcore Henry follows a cybernetic man as he attempts to save his love (with the help of an eccentric, disjointed ally) from the clutches of a telekinetic psychopath. The film seems to combine elements from several video game genres, feeling like a mixture of first person shooters and fantasy/scifi RPGs on steroids and/or acid. The seemingly satirical premise and delivery makes the film feel like one big elaborate joke. But a joke that manages to entertain.
The film's first-person perspective forces the protagonist role more in the hands of Jimmy (played by Sharlto Copley) than our first-person Henry. Copley plays his role fantastically, like a Robin Williams-type tirade of relentless character melding. At times, Copley felt like a stage actor changing costumes behind the curtain while we are distracted by mindless action from Henry's point of view. In nearly every way, Copley steals the show from the chaos that is this movie.
The violence is perhaps the only aspect of this film that is truly horrific. Though the entirety of the film feels like an extended short that would fall into the scifi/horror arena of the Telluride Horror Show shorts compilations (sorry, I've got THS on the brain. Really excited for this weekend), it still manages to carry you through till the end before you start feeling queasy.
I had no ill-conceived notion that this film was a horror film. But every once in a while it is refreshing to take our critique into other genres that occasionally flirt with thriller/horror/scifi/fantasy material in their premise. While Hardcore Henry is unashamedly action, its unforgiving and unflinching abuse of the senses makes it unrecognizable to much of anything else in cinema. Which, for that very reason alone, I suppose it is commendable.