You play as Henry. After waking up inside a tank of liquid with no memory of who you are, you’re introduced to Estelle (played by Haley Bennett), who tells you she is your wife. After slipping on your wedding band, she attaches a cybernetic arm and lower leg to your damaged body. It seems you were involved in something unfortunate, but are now mostly repaired and ready to have your voice box installed.
During this process some bad guy called Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) who possesses some kind of telekinetic power (that isn’t ever really explained) breaks into the lab you’re in with his goons and kills a bunch of people – but not you and your wife, because you manage to escape. A short while later and after more misfortune you run into Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) who helps you escape the current crisis but then dies almost immediately. Not to worry though, because Jimmy soon reappears as a new character and without telling you anymore about the movie I’ll leave it there.
Right in the beginning I said you play as Henry. I said this because Hardcore Henry is filmed entirely in first-person mode and besides sharing a similar viewpoint to a first-person shooter, it plays like one too. Just a quick mention here: some people left the movie complaining of motion sickness, so if this is something you get while playing games you can bet it’ll happen to you while watching Hardcore Henry. But that’s really more than enough talk about weird inner-ear fluid problems and barf bags.
Sharlto Copley plays a great role and keeps appearing throughout the movie as different characters. Don’t worry, this weirdness is explained as you go along. The Jimmy character is fun and entertaining, and provides more comedy than you might expect in a very violent action movie. It’s brutal and the first-person view seems to amplify this a little, but not really so much for those of you who play video games. The odd exploding head or bullet-riddled body flying through the air are things we deal with every time we grab a mouse and keyboard, or a controller.
The movie is sensible enough for what it is, but not enough time is spent on the bad guy. For example, why does he have telekinetic powers? That all said and done, it’s hard to develop characters when everything is from the point of view of one person. It’s a well put together action movie that does something pretty new and innovative. It’s not going to make you think or feel too much, but then you should know that going in. It feels like someone who plays a lot of video games was involved in the writing, so the game references feel right. It’s fun and if you like your action-packed popcorn movies and play first-person shooters, it’s pretty much a must-see.