Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ilya Naishuller|
|Written by||Ilya Naishuller|
|Music by||Dasha Charusha|
|Edited by||Steve Mirkovich|
|Box office||$16.8 million|
Hardcore Henry (Russian: Хардкор; also known simply as Hardcore in some countries) is a 2015 Russian-American science fiction action film written and directed by Ilya Naishuller, and produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Naishuller, Inga Vainshtein Smith, and Ekaterina Kononenko. Will Stewart provided additional writing for the film. The film was shot entirely from a first-person perspective.
It stars Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, and Tim Roth. The film was released theatrically in the United States by STXfilms on April 8, 2016, received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $16.8 million worldwide.
Waking inside a laboratory on an airship, a man recalls bullies from his childhood. A scientist, Estelle, greets him and tells him his name is Henry, she is his wife, and that he has been revived from an accident that left him amnesiac and mute. After she replaces a missing arm and leg with cybernetic prostheses, mercenaries led by the psychokinetic Akan raids the ship, claiming all of Estelle's research is Akan's corporate property. He kills Estelle's scientists before attempting to murder Henry, but Henry and Estelle flee in an escape pod, landing in Moscow. Estelle is abducted by the mercenaries, who try to kill Henry.
Henry is rescued by a mysterious man, Jimmy, who informs him that his cybernetic implants are running out of power, which will kill him if he can't recharge. Jimmy is killed by corrupt cops bought out by Akan, and Henry is forced to fight his way through both cops and mercenaries, sneaking onto a bus. He is joined by Jimmy—not dead, now an alcoholic, odorous bum—who informs him that one of Akan's associates, Slick Dimitry, has a cybernetic charging pump implanted, which Henry needs to recharge. The two are attacked by a flamethrower-wielding goon. Jimmy is incinerated, but Henry escapes, locating and chasing Dimitry throughout Moscow before capturing him; just as Dimitry promises him information, he is killed by a sniper. Henry removes the pump and receives a call from Jimmy, who directs Henry to a brothel.
Henry meets two more versions of Jimmy—a cocaine-addicted lothario and a shy, awkward geek—who replace his pump. The brothel is attacked by Akan's forces. Henry fights his way through, but encounters Akan, who taunts him with Estelle's kidnapping, revealing she is being transported by an armored convoy. Akan hurls Henry out of the brothel.
Outside, Henry encounters another Jimmy—now a marijuana-obsessed hippie-biker—who transports him to Akan's convoy. Henry finds Estelle—and Akan, who (seemingly) kills him and buries him in the woods.
Jimmy finds and resuscitates Henry, only to be shelled by a tank. After killing the tank crew, fending off a helicopter, and failing to ride a runaway horse, Henry finds another Jimmy—a gruff sniper in a ghillie suit—who leads him to an abandoned hotel, where Jimmy is headquartered in a hidden laboratory. Jimmy and Henry encounter a number of policemen surrounding a girl. They are in the process of forcing her to perform oral sex on one of the cops. Henry kills them all. Here, the real Jimmy—a quadriplegic scientist—reveals his motive for helping Henry: revenge against Akan, who crippled him after his own cyborg super-soldiers failed. He reveals the other Jimmys are dormant clones that he can control, through which he lives a vice-filled life. The clones attack Henry after Jimmy realizes that Henry has been unknowingly broadcasting his location to Akan, with a strike force closing in. Fending off Jimmy, Henry convinces him to help. Henry and the clones of Jimmy—ranging from a punk rocker to a posh WWII Colonel—fight their way out, killing the force by collapsing the laboratory on them.
Jimmy and Henry drive to Akan's headquarters. They fight their way into an elevator, but Jimmy is mortally wounded. Before dying, Jimmy thanks Henry for being the closest thing to a friend he had, and removes a memory blocker, gradually restoring Henry's memories. Henry fights his way to the highest floor, where he is greeted by Akan, revealing an army of cyborg super-soldiers being fed Henry's memories. One such soldier fights Henry, followed by the rest of the army, chasing Henry to the roof.
Henry wipes out the entire army. Akan arrives and severely wounds Henry. Shortly after, Estelle arrives as well. In reality, Estelle was Akan's wife, forming an elaborate ruse to field-test Henry and use his memories to manipulate cyborg soldiers into doing anything to "rescue" their "wife"—specifically, terrorist attacks and world domination as Akan's loyal slaves. The two leave Henry for dead, leaving in a helicopter. Henry blacks out, but is energized by an emerging memory of his father (Tim Roth) encouraging him to fight back against the childhood bullies seen in the intro. Henry manages to reach Akan, and uses his own cybernetic eyestalk to decapitate Akan. He jumps onto Estelle's helicopter, presenting her Akan's head. Estelle shoots him, but the bullet ricochets off his cybernetic hand and wounds her, leaving her hanging from the helicopter. Estelle pleads with Henry to save her, but Henry slams the door, sending her falling to her death.
Mid-credits, an answering machine message from Jimmy is heard, telling Henry there is "one more thing" to do.
- Sergey Valyaev, Andrei Dementiev, Ilya Naishuller and others as Henry
- Sharlto Copley as Jimmy
- Danila Kozlovsky as Akan
- Haley Bennett as Estelle
- Tim Roth as Henry's Father
- Andrei Dementiev as Slick Dmitry
- Cyrus Arnold as Nat (credited as "Young Bully #2")
- Ilya Naishuller as Timothy / Higher-Self Merc
- Will Stewart as Robbie
- Dasha Charusha as Katya Dominatrix
- Svetlana Ustinova as Olga Dominatrix
Henry was originally played by Russian stuntman/camera operator Sergey Valyaev, but the camera rig used in production eventually caused him severe neck pain. The role was given to Andrei Dementiev (who also played Slick Dmitry). Dementiev suffered neck pain as well, in addition to losing a tooth after being accidentally struck by a stuntman. In scenes where Danila Kozlovskiy and Sharlto Copley talked directly to Henry, Valyaev and Dementiev wore shades to prevent the actors from looking at them instead of the camera. In a few scenes, Henry was played by Naishuller himself. Several stuntmen portrayed Henry between scenes—in all, more than ten actors shared the role.
Bodybuilding champion Alexey Karas appeared as a muscular cyborg.
Hardcore Henry was filmed with GoPro cameras mounted on a specially made mask designed by Sergey Valyaev, deemed the "Adventure Mask", and stabilization systems that used either electronics or magnets, created by the movie's director of photography, Vsevolod Kaptur. Between the electronics and the magnet stabilization systems, Naishuller chose the magnets, as he felt that it resembled natural head movement. The recordings from the GoPro cameras were edited to cut the hundreds of shots together into one continuous film.
The concept for the film came from the "Bad Motherfucker" and "The Stampede" music videos, which Naishuller made with Valyaev for his band, Biting Elbows. These were also shot with a GoPro from the first-person perspective. The movie was partially funded with Indiegogo.
The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2015. The film became one of the highest-profile at the festival, and led to a bidding war between Lionsgate, Universal, and STX Entertainment. Ultimately, STX acquired worldwide rights to Hardcore, including a wide release commitment, for $10 million, becoming the studio's first festival acquisition. It was retitled Hardcore Henry for its international release. At the festival, the film won the Grolsch People's Choice Midnight Madness Award. The film was released on April 8, 2016, by STX. On July 26, 2016, Hardcore Henry was released on Blu-ray and DVD.
Hardcore Henry has grossed $9.3 million in North America and $5.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $14.3 million, against a budget of $2 million.
In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggested the film would gross $7–10 million from 3,015 theaters in its opening weekend, trailing fellow newcomer The Boss ($20–24 million projection) but besting fellow newcomer Demolition ($2–3 million projection). It grossed $380,000 from its early Thursday screenings and $2 million on its first day. It went on to gross $5.1 million in its opening weekend, finishing 5th at the box office. After two weeks, the film was pulled from 2,496 theaters which was the second largest third weekend theater drop of all-time, behind Meet Dave (2,523 in 2008).
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film had an approval rating of 50%, based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Hardcore Henry seems poised to reinvent the action flick, but without a story or characters worth caring about, its first-person gimmick quickly loses its thrill." Metacritic gives the film a score of 51 out of 100, based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
In Russia, the film received positive reviews. According to Russian aggregator Kritikanstvo, Hardcore Henry was rated 7.9/10 on average by Russian critics (based on 52 reviews), and received only one negative review.
Max Nicholson of IGN rated the film 8.6/10 stating "Two parts FPS, one part platformer and a pinch of HowToBasic, director Ilya Naishuller's Hardcore Henry is a recipe for non-stop, ludicrous fun. While the film's actual story is nigh existent [sic], it's sure to please gamers and action junkies alike with its inventive set pieces and mind-boggling action" and "Hardcore Henry lives up to the title with non-stop, off-the-wall action and a love for all things video games".
Both writer/director Ilya Naishuller and Sharlto Copley said in an interview to TechRadar that they will be willing to make a sequel. Naishuller said:
"I have an outline for a second one. If there's a need and a want for it. Both Sharlto and I would make a second one. It'd be much, much quicker. It may not be three years this time ... it may be two years and six months... People are going to download or pirate it. You'll want an opinion on it, especially if you're a gamer. The question is whether people will turn up to the cinema to watch it."
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