NEW YORK (CNS) — The obscenely violent sci-fi action flick “Hardcore Henry” (STX) is presented entirely from the point of view of the title character, a man whose scientist wife, Estelle (Haley Bennett), brings him back to life as a cyborg.
Aided by a cagy stranger named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), Henry then spends the duration of the Moscow-set picture battling — that is, slaughtering — assailants led by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), a malevolent industrialist with telekinetic powers who kidnaps Estelle.
The fact that no actor is credited with playing the role of Henry is telling. Henry is mute and consequently doesn’t deliver any lines that might help flesh out the character.
Yet the main reason he doesn’t add up to a bona fide protagonist is that very little humanity is discernible in the character. The small helmet-mounted cameras used to shoot the film substitutes for a lead persona; and the three cinematographers can therefore be considered the stars of the movie.
The vision they execute belongs to screenwriter and director Ilya Naishuller, who expands upon a viral music video he made for his punk rock band. The novelty of Naishuller’s decision to shoot the unrelenting onslaught exclusively through the eyes of Henry quickly wears off however. And the frenetic pacing and glibly humorous tone that he strikes aren’t enough to make “Hardcore Henry” seem anything other than tedious and dispiritingly disposable.
Viewers who can tolerate the jittery, potentially nauseating technique will be left to confront its bloody content, which includes close-up depictions of death and dismemberment by multiple methods.
For all the gory chaos and commotion, “Hardcore Henry” is a very dull movie. Even its appeal for those seeking maximum adrenaline is likely to be short-lived.
The film contains a near-constant stream of extremely graphic violence, frequent drug use, strong sexual content, including several perverse situations and much upper female nudity as well as pervasive profane, rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.