Sunday, April 10, 2016

Hardcore Henry

Not much to say about this, since I wound up going because I missed my screening of April and the Extraordinary World and wasn't going to go through the rigmarole of dealing with part of the Red Line being replaced by shuttle-bus service for nothing.

It was shockingly dead at the Boston Common AMC for a Saturday night. I think everyone, from Warner Brothers to competing studios to exhibitors, was expecting a lot more out of Batman v Superman, and the thing apparently sputtering from poor word of mouth has left the multiplexes very quiet. The folks who were there for Henry seemed to really like it, though; there was applause at the end of the movie. I kind of wonder how many of those guys were gamers, and my not connecting was a factor of me just not being into video games much since they became less abstract (and, yes, that does correlate nicely with me getting older).

Oh, and while I try not to spoil things in the review, the thing that half-impressed me was


Just now did I miss that it didn't make much sense for Akan and his men to surprise Henry & Estelle when the lab was on a plane? I mean, if Henry or the audience had a second to think, there's no way that this can be anything but a set-up. The fact that it was revealed to be a set-up doesn't really make that better, since it should have been obvious, and it means that Akan was doing, what, an expensive and attention-getting field test? Sure, he's got more reason to let his own men get killed than most alpha villains, but it's still dumb!


Also, how is "Don't Stop Me Now" not on the soundtrack? It's the most memorable of the tunes in the movie and was used in the trailer!

Hardcore Henry

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 9 April 2016 at AMC Boston Common #16 (first-run, DCP)

Pay attention through the credits of first-person action movie Hardcore Henry, and there will be one or two things that mildly amuse: Three guys listed after "Additional Cameramen as Henry", and an acknowledgment that the poster for Lady in the Lake appears courtesy of Warner Brothers. I missed that callback to Robert Montgomery's uneven attempt to shoot a movie from the hero's point of view, but it's easy to miss stuff in this movie; it's a fast-moving mess more interested in empty violence than the actual cool stuff going on underneath.

It's clear where writer/director Ilya Naishuller's priorities are from the James Bond-style opening titles, which show various sorts of violent death in slow motion. After that, the film jumps to a secret lab, where the audience settles into the title character's point of view as his scientist wife Estelle (Haley Bennett) administers him, attaching mechanical limbs and telling him that his amnesia is, well, not normal, but expected after what he's been through. He's barely had time to get used to his cyborg upgrades - can't even get a voicebox installed - before Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), the Russian industrialist funding Estelle's research, bursts in and starts killing lab assistants with telekenisis. Henry and Estelle escape but get separated. Fortunately, help soon appears in the form of Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who appears to give Henry directions and assistance in various guises, apparently shaking off any sort of catastrophic injury that comes from being around Henry and Akan's veritable army of goons.

In retrospect, Naishuller deserves a bit of credit in that what should be a really obvious giveaway in the first ten minutes or so more or less goes unnoticed as the action charges forward. It does raise the question of whether it's better to be frustrated that the characters are missing something right in front of their faces or to think that things are silly and random - for a place that seems a lot like contemporary Moscow, you'd think Akan being some sort of Dark Jedi and there being multiple people with internal batteries running around would be treated as odd, not to mention the utter lack of useful police presence - and then having things collapse toward the end. It's a thoroughly dumb movie, but sort of manages to camouflage just how dumb and in which manner for longer than you'd expect.

Full review on EFC.

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