Henry, a newly resurrected cyborg who must save his wife/creator from the clutches of a psychotic tyrant with telekinetic powers, AKAN, and his army of mercenaries. Fighting alongside Henry is Jimmy, who is Henry’s only hope to make it through the day. Hardcore takes place over the course of one day, in Moscow, Russia.
Over-the-top-ness is what draws you into “Hardcore Henry,” a film that can be described as a cross between the “Call of Duty” first-person shooter video games, and hyper-violent, semi-satirical action movies like “RoboCop” and “Crank.” The film lives and dies based on its abilities to disorient, shock, and generally undermine your sense of stability. So: soon after he is awoken and quickly debriefed by Estelle, Henry is chased out of an airborne laboratory by evil albino businessman Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), an ultra-powerful mob boss with the ability to move things with his mind. Henry, a cyborg with a robotic right arm and right leg, then runs around Moscow with the help of Jimmy (“District 9” star Sharlto Copley), a mysterious benefactor who appears through the guise of various clones of himself. Henry’s mission is always simple: track down allies and supplies using a cell phone with a GPS, and kick scads of butt along the way.
Now, you could argue that “Hardcore Henry” does not go far enough over-the-top to be a truly great midnight movie, something you watch with your friends whenever your mind is most receptive to dark, trippy, and/or flat-out bizarre ideas. For example, much of the film concerns the simultaneous homogenization and privatization of contemporary Russian security, linking Akan’s all-black mercenary stormtroopers with other private sector employees—naked, blonde-wig-wearing prostitutes. Likewise, a third-act twist implicates viewers for wanting to believe something about Henry that is patently untrue/irrelevant. But again, not enough is made of this revelation.