Hardcore Henry Review

I saw the first trailer for Hardcore Henry in the cinema a few weeks ago and I was shaking my head at the ridiculousness of it. It seemed like just another dumb shooters with a gimmick of that it was in first person. But trailers have advertised their films wrong before and I always try to go into a new film with an open mind. So, does Hardcore Henry actually come together as a film?

Hardcore Henry stars Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett and Tim Roth and is directed by Ilya Naishuller. The film follows Henry as he is brought back to life as a cyborg by his wife Estelle (Bennett). She is soon captured by mercenaries led by villain Akan (Kozlovsky) and Henry sets out to save her.

Hardcore Henry‘s main selling point is its first-person camera perspective. While films have dabbled in first person (the adaptation of Doom had a cringe worthy stab at it), it hasn’t been widely used by creators for films. And sure, for a good while the first person viewpoint works. And extended sequence in an abandoned hotel, which features a floor-by-floor gunfight is gloriously dumb, along with several moments of flashy parkour chases, it comes together for a few minutes. Sadly, a film can’t be an hour and a half of continual gunfights and punch-ups. You need peaks and troughs, otherwise the audience doesn’t get a break. I eventually lost interest because there was no lull in the action for me to catch my breath.

The film proudly wears it’s inspirations on its chest. Naishuller as a director has obviously grown up with YouTube, as he swipes not only video game Let’s Play’s but also amateur parkour videos and smashes them together. But that’s actually a point against it, it doesn’t feel like it should be in the cinema, it feels like I should be watching this on my computer at home.

Most of the storyline can be swept aside by just saying “because video games.” The main character having amnesia and being mute? Because video games. Telekenisis? Because video games. Women used as catalyst for story and is trophy for completing mission? Because video games. The previously mentioned abandoned hotel is ripped straight from Call Of Duty, there is a strip club from Grand Theft Auto and the parkour is from Assassins Creed. It even tries it’s hand at a Bioshock type of twist (which even the most simple of audience member will guess). That’s where Hardcore Henry will find its audience, in video game lovers and players who want to see their favourite games on play out in real life.

The script even goes a bit video gamey. Henry get’s a phone from his friend Jimmy and he calls him with his next mission. “Go there. Kill this guy. Take his macguffin to keep the plot moving.” The script also tries it’s hand at a few jokes but most of these miss. Apart from a rip on The Magnificent Seven as well as a two second visual gag involving a doormat, most of the rest of the jokes feel aimed at the teenage audience that can’t even get into the screening (Hardcore Henry is an 18). Jokes about women and gays are throughout, with nothing more to say than “you’re not the target audience for this film so we’ll make fun of you.” The whole script feels like it was made by a twelve year old hooked on sherbet, filling it with all things he thinks are cool. The previously mentioned strip club scene, which brings in needless titillation, as well as heaps of gore throughout (that makes Deadpool look like it was made for kids) it all seems juenvenile.

In the end, Hardcore Henry is exhausting. If you can turn your brain to the male teen setting (other films in this category are 300 and Grown Ups) then you might find some enjoyment. If not, then skip it.

Score: 3/10 If you’re old enough you to see it, you’re probably not its target audience.

The Hateful Eight Review

Okay, I’m a few days late to this one. It’s been a hard week of university work. And seeing as everyone else is still concerned over Star Wars VII, I think I deserved a little time off. But I’m back now, with The Hateful Eight.

The Hateful Eight stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern and is written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The film follows The Hangman (Russell) who is escorting The Prisoner (Leigh) to claim a bounty reward. They are snowed in a cabin with six other characters, where one character is lying in wait to spring The Prisoner free.

As usual, the acting is great. The eight main players are good, with Walton Goggins as The Sheriff and Bruce Dern as The Confederate being my favourites. Tarantino also gets amazing work out of the smaller roles, populated by Channing Tatum and Zoe Bell. Tarantino is known for getting actors to perform at their peak level, and they’re all doing first-class work.

Tarantino writes the script and while he still includes his usual screenwriting quirks, he manages to add some new features to his already over-stuffed screenplay. Gone are the overt references to genre cinema, instead we get a really tense, really moody and really thought-out film where the silences are just as good to listen to as the ten minute long conversations and Jackson soliloquies. Tarantino even jumps in and has some dialogue himself, narrating events after the film’s interval, and in between chapters.

The set-up could easily be thought of as Reservoir Dogs in a Western, but it’s a lot more complex than that. In Reservoir Dogs, we all know who the liar is, but in The Hateful Eight, Tarantino manages to keep it quiet until the very last minutes. Lines are drawn in the snowed-in cabin that the characters have settled in, with the barriers being Union vs. Confederacy, black vs. white and in the end, whether you’re a decent human being or not. Tarantino draws the audience in on these encounters, to the point where we’re pointing fingers in our mind, trying to figure out who the culprit is. It’s a film that you’ll probably want to watch twice just to see if you find all the clues that the director leaves out for us.

Ennio Morricone, famed composer of several Spaghetti Westerns, takes music duties and gives us one of most suspenseful soundtracks of all time. Taking cues from his tracks that didn’t make it into John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing as well as reusing a track from The Exorcist II, Morricone’s music choices seem to be horror directed, which ends up being the major factor that makes the film so tense and enjoyable to watch. The film could almost be a companion piece to The Thing, as both feature Kurt Russell, Morricone, snow and clawing sense that nobody says who they really are.

The film starts with a beautiful long shot of snow-covered Wyoming. We see a small dot in the distance, a station wagon, and as it gets closer, Morricone’s music comes in and just like Jed Kurzel did with last year’s Macbeth, the music adds a tremendous amount to the scene.

Just like all of Tarantino’s work, the film has problems in its length. While it was novel to have an interval in the middle and definitely added to the second half of the film, it’s the first half of the film that really drags it’s feet. We spend half an hour with Russell, Jackson and Leigh (two chapters out of six) before we even get to the main stage of the film. And while some of Tarantino’s dialogue is good to listen to, I have to admit, it’s stuff that we’ve all really seen before and heard it better in his other films. But apart from that, there really is no other problems with the film.

When I first saw the trailer for The Hateful Eight, I wasn’t too thrilled. I thought that Tarantino had had his time and that this one wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as his older filmography. But soon enough, all my reservations were swept aside and I was watching one of Tarantino’s best films.

Score: 8/10 The score is pretty appropriate for the film. But in all seriousness, it’s been a long time that I’ve seen a film so suspenseful.

Now that you’ve finished The Hateful Eight review, why don’t you come look at the review of the rest of Tarantino’s films?