• Hardcore Henry

    Released by: Universal Studios
    Released on: July 26th, 2016.
    Director: Ilya Naishuller
    Cast: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Andrey Dementyev, Dasha Charusha
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    Essentially a first person shooter turned into a live action movie, Ilya Naishuller’s Hardcore Henry (originally just called Henry but retitled for US distribution for some reason) is shot entirely from the point of view of its titular character. When the movie begins, a man opens his eyes and sees a beautiful blonde scientist Estelle (Haley Bennett) working on him. She calls him Henry, tells him he’s lost his memory, and basically, with the help from a few other scientists, rebuilds him. She also tells him she’s his wife.

    Shortly after, a weird looking albino guy named Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) shows up, some heavily armed associates in tow. They open fire but Henry and Estelle make their way through some air ducts to an escape pod – it seems this lab was up in the sky somewhere – and make it out. They don’t open the parachute in time, however, and while Henry survives the crash landing on the freeway, Estelle is injured and then kidnapped. Unsure what to do, Henry sort of wanders around in a bit of a daze for a minute or two, but only for a minute or two. It isn’t long before a man named Jimmy (Sharlto Copley) finds him, explains to him that he’ll have to recharge his batteries or die, and gives him a few pointers about just what exactly is happening to him and how he can hopefully get out of it alive.

    From there, Henry basically goes on a killing spree on the streets of Moscow, hoping to get some answers and maybe even save his wife.

    Short on plot (very, very short on plot) but high on absolutely frantic energy, Hardcore Henry is an ultra-violent journey through Moscow with an emphasis on brutal, blood violence. The movie takes about ten minutes to set up its plot and then from there we’re off. The audience is Henry, the first person POV likely to send some running for the exit early on as the camera work is dizzying, even nauseating at times. But you can’t help but appreciate just how balls out violent this picture gets – and really for no other reason than to be a balls out violent picture. It’s a big, bloody mess but not without a sense of humor. There’s a mean streak here to be sure but it’s balanced by some effective dark humor and you never get the impression that we’re supposed to take any of this all that seriously. Which is good, because that would be very hard to do.

    The performances are all fine, with Danila Kozlovsky playing a pretty fun villain and lovely Haley Bennett decent as Henry’s wife. Sharlto Copley is pretty funny as the strange British man who may or may not be helping Henry out here. Henry himself is played by Andrei Dementiev and he does an admirable job in the physical side of things. There’s not much to the actual ‘acting’ part here, but the guy is put through the ringer. The stunts and action scenes are always dialed up to eleven and never half-assed. Frequently they’re impressive. Like a video game, as the storyline progresses what Henry must accomplish and how he must accomplish it becomes increasingly challenging but by the time we get to the end, it’s fairly exhausting. Still, it’s a fun watch, even if it is almost entirely devoid of actual character development or a particularly engaging story. Style over substance? Absolutely. But entertaining style over substance, and that counts for something.


    Hardcore Henry arrives on Blu-ray from Universal Pictures in its original 1.85.1 aspect ratio in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Shot digitally there's obviously not going to be any print damage issues while clarity and color reproduction are generally top notch. There's a little bit of aliasing and a little bit of banding in some spots but generally if you're not looking for it you're not going to see it. Black levels are solid and shadow detail is pretty good too – at least as good as it should be. As this is shot first person/POV style, the camera moves around a lot and for this reason, there’s a certain erratic look to things here. Close up shots show the most detail, no shock there, but medium and long distance shots also fare quite well when the camera isn’t spinning. Generally, however, this is a really strong, colorful transfer with nice detail and depth.

    The audio is offered dubbed in English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio with optional subtitles available in English SDH, French and Spanish. This is, as you'd guess, a pretty aggressive mix. There's lots of surround activity here and really strong, deep bass emanating from the subwoofer when the movie calls for it. The levels stay properly balanced here and there's nice depth to the mix. Hiss and distortion are never an issue.

    Extras start out with the first of two commentary tracks with director/producer Ilya Naishuller flying solo. This is actually a pretty interesting talk as things lean towards the technical side of the production. The scene specific dissection of the movie covers things from the opening credits to the film’s big finish and in between we learn about the locations, effects work and lots about the camera work needed to make this the movie that it is. The second commentary gets Naishuller behind the microphone with actor/executive producer Sharlto Copley. There’s a lot of crossover between this track and the first one but Copley’s involvement means that there’s at least some talk of what it was like acting in the picture as well as what went into getting the project made in the first place. They both cover a fair bit of the same ground, so if you’re only going to listen to one of them check out the second track, it’s a bit more engaging and a bit more lively.

    The disc also includes four deleted scenes running roughly ten minutes in total, and a twelve minute Fan Chat where Sharlto Copley and Ilya Naishuller discuss various aspects of the movie with fans of the picture (most of this is covered in more detail in the commentary tracks).

    Outside of that we get animated menus and chapter selection. Trailers for a few unrelated Universal properties play before the main menu loads. Included inside the Blu-ray case is an insert card that contains a download code for an UltraViolet version of the movie. The Blu-ray case in turn fits inside a slipcover featuring identical cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Hardcore Henry is nothing if not relentless, you’ve got to give it credit for that. The plot comes second here, this is all about the adrenaline rush. On that level, it works. The almost non-stop barrage of ultra-violence takes things to cartoonish extremes, reality was an afterthought it would seem, but it’s a fun watch. The Universal Blu-ray has a decent array of extras, it looks quite good and it features a very impressive lossless audio mix. This isn’t deep, but it works.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Flash's Avatar
      Flash -
      Is the original Russian audio track on the disc?
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      There are parts spoken in Russian (subs appear for some of these scenes) but the bulk of it is in English and it looks to have been shot that way.
    1. Flash's Avatar
      Flash -
      Oh. I assumed it was originally in Russian since it was a Russian film. I guess that is what I get for assuming.