I mention that Hardcore Henry comes from STX Entertainment. The full story behind it is that STX purchased this movie for $10 million at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is written and directed by Ilya Naishuller, who is the frontman of the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows. Naishuller directed a couple of music videos for their songs that ended up going viral because of this first-person shooter format that they used. Namely, one of these music videos currently has 33 million views on YouTube. I won't name this song because it would require typing an f-bomb in this review (which I don't do), but if you look up Biting Elbows on YouTube, you'll find it. Due to this success, Naishuller decided to take this idea and run with it in a feature-length film that debuted at TIFF. I believe the whole movie (or at least most of it) is shot using a GoPro, which is a fascinating idea for a movie. Unless of course the idea of watching a cyborg, superhuman fight a bunch of baddies with a GoPro makes you feel a bit sick. If any sort of shaky camera technique in a movie makes you sick, then I'm going to tell right up front to skip this movie, because this is the shakiest movie I've ever seen. Even I started feeling a bit dizzy in certain scenes and I can usually do good with shaky cam.
On this same humorous note, there is a bit of guilt that settles in when you watch the movie. I don't know about you, but Henry does some things that I wouldn't do in real life. Because of the fact that it feels like I was him, I almost wanted to apologize to some of the people I ran into or shot with a gun that I didn't need to shoot. It wasn't my fault, though. I was being forced to do all of this. It also got rather disgusting at times when blood was splattering on my face, when a head (or whole body) would explode, or when I would walk past the dead corpses of villains that I either shot or blew up with a grenade. Obviously you aren't going to see this movie if you don't like action movies, but I'm just going to give you a warning of how violent and bloody this movie is. Know what you are getting into. And don't go watch a censored version of this movie on a place like VidAngel because there won't be much of a movie left to watch. This is non-stop blood and violence in your face for the entire run-time. You're either all in or you're not. If you enjoy watching a movie as violent as Kingsman or any Quentin Tarantino movie, then you'll probably enjoy at least portions of this movie.
The problem here is the narrative. You can definitely tell that this a movie written by someone whose main profession is musician who has only written and directed a few really good music videos as opposed to a professional screenwriter. There's not a whole lot of substance to this story. I do like the fact that we are thrown right into this movie without knowing what is going on. The premise does follow the Jason Bourne formula in that our main antagonist has no idea what is going on and has to try to figure things out himself. In our instance, Henry can't even talk which makes it even more like we are Henry. But after like 20 or 30 minutes, the movie started getting old. You can kinda see through the mystery the whole time so the "twist ending" comes with zero surprise and the plot itself is very thin. We're just going from place to place fighting a bunch of bad guys. And we don't slow down at all. I would've liked to slow down a bit in certain scenes to build some story or have some character progression. The best action movies do exactly that. Take Mad Max: Fury Road for example. The movie wasn't just a non-stop chase scene. We stopped on multiple occasions to develop Tom Hardy's and Charlize Theron's characters and thus the flow felt right.
If you are one of those people who do like playing multi-player, first-person shooter games for hours on end and having a story to your gaming isn't necessary, then I feel that Hardcore Henry is a movie that you will really enjoy. That type of gaming I can do in short spurts every once in a while, but I get bored of it pretty quickly. I'm predicting there will be a correlation here. I think you have to be more than just a fan of action movies to enjoy Hardcore Henry. I think you have to be a fan of play first-person shooters for hours on end because that's what this movie is. Maybe I'm wrong. But that's just my prediction. I also think that there's a chance if you are this type of person, you don't necessarily go see a ton of movies, which is why I think this movie flopped in its opening weekend. They couldn't get their target audience to go see their movie. Sure, STX will still make a profit due to the small price tag, but this is looking like it'll be the studio's lowest grossing movie yet. As I said, there's plenty to praise with this movie and I did have a ton of fun for a little while, but due to the lack of an interesting story as well as the non-stop pace, I was checked out mentally around halfway through and thus my grade for Hardcore Henry is a 6/10.