I shall be passionately probing Hardcore Henry, stripping it bare and penetrating its depths to dictate if it’ll turn you on or turn you off. So read on only if you’ve already seen Hardcore Henry, or don’t plan to.
Tim Roth is your dad when you’re younger and being bullied by kids who are ugly enough to be victims themselves. The opening scene sets up the device of being filmed in the first person. The movie is made from your perspective, as if you are seeing everything. It’s like P.O.V. pornography with
no less nudity.
0:01:48 The opening credits are well-shot, slow motion scenes of bodily destruction to the tune of The Stranglers singing ‘Let Me Down Easy’. #hardhitting
[N.B. I’ve included a playlist with the songs — including the songs not on the soundtrack — and music from the film at the end of this synopsis.]
0:04:36 You wake up in a vat of liquid in a laboratory, attached to wires and tubes, feeling like Wolverine or a lobster in a restaurant.
0:5:01 Wow, you’re buff! At least what’s left of you…
0:05:16 A blonde in a lab coat (Haley Bennett as Estelle) drains your tub as a machine descends from the ceiling and establishes a video link (your camera). She then informs you that you cannot speak. Evidently, the bath left you speechless.
Estelle: This next part might hurt. Maybe quite a lot.
You wonder why she didn’t let you sleep through the painful part.
0:07:32 Estelle attaches a foot and a forearm to replace the ones you’ve lost. She completes you.
0:08:26 She tells you she’s your wife, then hands you a wedding ring for your fake hand and tells you she loves you. If I were you (and in this film, I am), I’d be worried the marriage was as genuine as my arm.
0:10:02 Before lab techs can give you your voice, an albino and his crew shoot their way into the lab. He’s obviously the villain, because albinos always make the most colourful villains.
0:11:52 WTF!? Estelle turns up the computer and plays a guitar chord file so loudly that the speakers explode and knock three grown men over, allowing her and Henry to make their escape? Sounds a bit far-fetched.
0:12: Estelle and Henry run through a small morgue.
If Akan gets a hold of my work, men like these will be brought back from the dead to form his army.
The only practical use I can think of for an army of dead people is to drop their bodies from planes onto the enemies.
0:12:32 Your girlfriend shouts at you to go through a door marked ‘Emergency Exit’. When you do, you nearly fall out of a flying dirigeable. You almost fell out of love.
0:13:52 Now your girlfriend forgets to tell you to open the chute of your escape pod and you crash land. You might be better off gay…
0:15:22 A group of Akan’s mercenaries arrives at the crash site (in Moscow). After saying you’re weak, the lead thug tases you. This is not the burst of energy you needed.
0:18:04 While you fight to escape the mercenaries who’ve followed you down the embankment from which you fell, you are saved by a man called Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who’s disappointed you don’t have s voice box.
Three years I’ve been waiting for this fucking moment and I get Charlie-fucking-Chaplin.
0:18:27 [The song on the car radio is ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’, by Leo Sayer. It’s not on the soundtrack but it is on my playlist. See link at the end of the synopsis.]
Jimmy (Sharlto Copley): The good news is, you’re going to live a while. The bad news is that, in this case, ‘a while’ means 20…30 minutes tops.
The man who rescued you has you connect yourself to an electronic meter to gauge your health. Which means you have connections!
0:20:07 The police pull you and Jimmy over, but they’re in Akan’s pocket. While pulling away from the ambush, Jimmy is shot in the head and crashes the car. He needed that bullet like a hole in the head.
0:22:09 You have to escape the corrupt coppers through underground tube tunnels. The parkour scenes work less well, as the movement is too fast to be captured on film. You could say the parkour scenes are a little…jumpy.
0:22:58 A homeless alky on the bus you sneaked onto turns out to be Jimmy, as in a different version of the Jimmy you just witnessed being shot in the head. This one may be a wretch, but compared with the dead Jimmy, he’s got his head together.
0:23:56 Jimmy instructs you to go to Akan’s right-hand man (Slick Dmitry), open up his chest cavity, remove an electronic pump from beneath his heart and take said pump to Jimmy, who will install it in you to save your life. Hardcore transplant…
Jimmy [speaking about some bloke walking in the street]: That has got to be the gayest jackets I’ve ever seen.
Turns out to be a fireproofed coat that protects the wearer when he unleashes hell through his flamethrower.
I’ll be in touch.
Alky Jimmy’s dying words
0:27:01 Using parkour, you climb into Dmitry’s building through a second floor window. You can’t use the door because there are more guards than vodka bottles in the Kremlin.
0:30:21 After shooting a slew of his henchmen, you discover Dmitry (Andrei Dementiev, who also plays Henry — most of the time) playing dead in a room full of monitors. He escapes through a window after he tricks you. You may have a high tech body but your intelligence is definitely low end.
0:32:04 It’s a fairly average chase scene until they run along the support beams atop a blooming bridge!
Wait, wait! I can tell you something very important about the man who sent you here.
Slick Dmitry just before his head is shot off
Um no, you can’t. You can’t tell us anything.
0:34:02 After you take the electronic pump from Slick Dmitry’s chest, Jimmy calls you on a mobile he gave you and tells you to meet him at a high class establishment. I predict it’ll be more ‘high’ than ‘class’.
0:34:38 It didn’t take me long to be right. To the sounds of ‘My Girl’, by the Temptations, you enter a strip club.
0:35:26 You find the next Jimmy high on cocaine and sexing 4 prostitutes in a private room. Your battery is draining. Jimmy’s is, too, only it’s not his battery.
0:36:14 Jimmy is too heavily medicated to perform the surgery.
0:37:02 As your energy depletes to nothing, you see your sex life pass before your eyes.
0:37:54 Another Jimmy, Straight-laced Jimmy, enters and he installs the power unit that saves you. Good thing, as apparently you have less battery life than an Apple Watch.
0:39:36 You and Cocaine Jimmy have to hold off an onslaught of Akan’s men in the whore-house. Thinking of your grandmother in her knickers might help you last longer. [The song is The Sonics’ ‘Strychnine’]
0:40:40 Trying to escape the whore-house, you find Akan torturing a patron. Some patrons pay good money for that.
0:41:32 Akan tosses you and Cocaine Jimmy’s corpse down a garbage chute, proving Akan is a tosser.
0:42:48 A new Jimmy, Hippy Jimmy, interrogates one of Akan’s men in the garage to determine where he’s taking Estelle. When the man refuses, Hippy Jimmy shoots him in the knees and asks,
What do you want, higher self [shows him a marijuana joint], or ego [showing him the gun]? Higher self…or ego?
0:43:08 At that moment, the two young female owners of the brothel (Svetlana Ustinova and Darya Charusha as Olga the Dominatrix and Katya the Dominatrix, respectively) arrive in black leather with sabres and pistols. Jimmy lets them follow him to Akan’s base. You climb in a motorcycle sidecar, but you’re not riding shotgun, you’re riding machine gun. [The song is ‘My Woman’, by Biting Elbows]
[N.B. Biting Elbows is the musical group fronted by Ilya Naishuller, the director of Hardcore Henry. He also directed the band’s videos for ‘Stampede‘ and ‘Bad Motherfucker‘, which he filmed in the first person. This style caught the attention of director Timur Bekmambetov, who encouraged Naishuller to make a feature length film.]
[N.B. Darya Charusha (i.e. Olga the Dominatrix) is also the film’s composer.]
0:44:10 Bloody brilliant chase scene. I’m not sure if it’s more bloody or brilliant.
0:47:02 You rescue Estelle from the trailer of a moving semi, but Akan arrives and controls you with his telekinesis and his baseball bat.
[N.B. FWIW, a cursory search online tends to support this statistic.]
0:48:56 The song playing as Hippy Jimmy and Olga the Dominatrix rescue you while you’re being dragged through the forest is ‘Für Hildegard von Bingen’, by Devendra Banhart.
0:51:18 Hippy Jimmy and Olga are killed by heavy artillery, so you attack the tank that shot them. They need to install reversing lights on tanks just for you.
0:54:07 After you fall from the helicopter you’re attacking, and then a horse who doesn’t like you getting on his back, you finally arrive at Jimmy’s lair, escorted by Commando Jimmy.
0:54:37 You discover corrupt policemen attempting to rape a woman in the abandoned building that houses Jimmy’s lab. They tell the girl, ‘Baby, the gag reflex is psychological. It’s all in your head,’ and then you prove it by jamming a hose in their heads.
0:56:40 Once in Jimmy’s lab, he plays a video showing him creating an army of super soldiers for Akan. In the video, when the group of burly lads function worse than expected, Akan uses his telekinesis to throw Jimmy into the group of muscle bound clones where he gets more hits than Selena Gomez’s album in a singles bar.
0:56:48 Then, still using his mind force, Akan picks up Jimmy and drops him to the ground, shattering his spine. Being Akan’s stooge is back breaking work.
I grew men made of cyber-flesh.
Jimmy explains where all of his clones come from
He then puts on his helmet to control a new ‘avatar’, Pullover Jimmy.
0:58:04 Pullover Jimmy explains that you are a cyborg, with ‘bits and a brain’, meaning, unlike his avatars, you can think for yourself. What did the cyborg say to the battery salesman? How much do you charge!
0:59:32 Jimmy puts on a quite useless show of him and his avatars doing ‘I’ve got you under my skin’.
1:02:10 Unbeknownst to you, you’ve been broadcasting images to Akan, who is now debarking en masse at Jimmy’s lab to destroy the two of you and any avatars Jimmy cares to throw at him.
1:02:58 The new plan is to defeat Akan, retrieve your wife and build a new lab using Akan’s equipment. Sounds like a Plan B: B very lucky.
1:03:22 You and Paramilitary Jimmy plant plastic explosives through the lab. That ought to bring the house down.
1:08:11 You and Jimmy have to shoot your way out of his residence.
1:08:38 There’s a lot of action, but not all of it is new or original. Some of it, however, truly is.
1:09:34 WTF!? The army has been shooting to kill for the entire sequence, but now that they outnumber Henry, Jimmy the Cripple, Pullover Jimmy and Tommy Jimmy, they decide not to shoot at all but instead to wait for Tommy Jimmy to blow the lab and bring down the roof of the building in them.
What’s red and bad for your teeth?
Henchman fighting you at Akan’s HQ
The answer to this anti-joke is in the palm of his hand.
1:13:42 As he dies, Jimmy confesses that he tampered with one of your memories to make you a better soldier, or, as they say in the American mafia, ‘Forget about it!’
1:15:56 Akan is on a video monitor, displaying his cyborg army. He explains they will come to life just as you did: with a blonde telling each of them that he’s married to her and has to defend her. Those are fightin’ words.
1:16:14 You realise you were tricked and that the blonde doesn’t really love you but has instead promised her heart to your worst enemy. In cinema terms, this device is known as ‘real life’.
1:17:49 You kill one of the cyborgs and remove his battery to replace yours with, because his is much stronger and you need all the strength you can get to fight the entire cyborg army. 💪
1:19:04 You battle the totality of the cyborg forces and remind me of the expression, ‘You and what army?’
1:21:54 ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’, by Queen plays as you shoot up adrenaline to prepare for the final battle with Akan. Because you’re ‘Akan’ to get started.
1:24:07 Estelle runs to Akan to make sure he’s OK in a scene I’ve been waiting for since she appeared on screen. A real twist would’ve been if she’d been loyal.
Akan, thinking you’re defeated, kisses you goodbye.
You didn’t make history, Henry, you helped end it.
1:25:32 Akan knocks you semi unconscious and you finally get a good look at yourself.
You…little…pussy. That’s what my old man called me, just like it was my name. And I proved him right by killing all of the wrong people. I love you Henry, and I’ll never call you anything but your name, but you gotta decide. Are you gonna lay there, swallowing all the blood in your mouth, or are you gonna stand up, spit it out and go spill theirs?
Your father in a flashback
The memory Jimmy hid from you comes back and you learn that your father supported you when you were bullied. For some reason, this makes you want to fight, just like you have been for the entire film when you thought he wasn’t supporting you. WTF!?
1:26:39 You surprise Akan and rip his hand in two. Like a poker player with a pair of twos, he has a terrible hand.
1:26:5 In a brilliant scene, Akan (for some WTF reason), decides to levitate all of the cyborg bodies, which you use like stepping stones to attain him.
1:28:38 You leap into the helicopter to show Estelle what’s left of Akan. She shoots you, but you deflect one of the bullets with your metal hand and it strikes her in the heart. Maybe she won’t die, though, because she’s heartless.
1:29:04 I was right. She doesn’t die, but instead falls through the helicopter door and hangs on for dear life miles above the city.
Listen to your heart, Henry.
Your pleading ‘wife’
You pull the door down on her fingers and listen to her scream.
Roll credits to ‘For the Kill’, Biting Elbows
1:33:22 Post credit ‘scene’
Hello, Henry. Well, if you’re hearing this, there’s one more thing I need you to do…
Jimmy on a voice mail
- WTF!?’s: 3 brutal ones
- When to Follow: Perfect for a Saturday night with the lads and a lot of beer, but not so much that the first person filming style makes you ill.
- Where’s This Found: Hardcore Henry has brilliant pacing: from beginning to end there’s never a dull moment. While it’s true the action is often repetitive, at least there’s a lot of it. As for the FPS filming style, it looks good on paper and usually on the screen, except for the running / parkour scenes. What the film delivers in adrenaline it lacks in story, but the idea, the execution and especially the fun top the scales and make this film one I’d recommend. Out of a possible 10, I have 7 F’s to give.
- What To Feedback:
[Update: The option “Mindf*cked with confusion and thrill?!?!?!” was suggested by a reader as ‘Other’, so I’ve included it in the poll.]
Left Over WTF (Way Too Funny) Photos
Prints suitable for reposting!
WTF!? did they say?
WTF!? do you meme?
What to Follow Up
Bar None Review
Fernby Films Review
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