- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Director Ilya Naishuller recently took movie audiences on a brutal odyssey through an unusual first-person perspective in Hardcore Henry (Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Rated R, $34.98, 97 minutes).

His efforts arrive on Blu-ray in a screen-filling presentation (1.85:1-aspect ratio) to highlight a futuristic story that plays out near equal to a live-action video game.

The story presents a cyborg without a voice module named Henry, apparently built by his wife, that escapes from a research facility. 

He stays on the perpetual run throughout the film, in one near-continuous shot, to discover his human origins and thwart the plans of a telekinetic lunatic named Akan and his armed minions.

Any viewer used to playing video games such as “Call of Duty,” “Doom” or “Halo” will find the onscreen effort exhilarating. However, movie viewers unfamiliar with the forced perspective might initially get a case of vertigo as they adjust to the jarring, frenetic pace of Henry in action.



More specifically, the shots use either a stuntman or production member wearing a GoPro camera mounted on a sturdy helmet.


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Each can beautifully capture the perspective of Henry as he, for example, parkours his way over building, drops 16 floors on a zipline, snipes enemies, tears open his chest and knifes his way through brawls.

More of a visual experiment in stylish ultra-violence rather than a conventional Hollywood production, “Hardcore Henry” might wear out the viewer through its visual assaults, but I found it one heck of a roller-coaster ride.

Best extras: The disc offers a generous pair of optional commentary tracks, one with only Mr. Naishuller and the other with actor Sharito Copley (all versions of Henry’s mysterious friend Jimmy) and Mr. Naishuller.

The latter is the better of the two due to Mr. Copley’s continual enthusiasm for the onscreen minutiae while constantly asking a wide range of questions to the director.

We learn such production fodder as an apple crushed by Henry with his new mechanical hand actually had an explosive in it to make for a more impactful result. It took 30 hours to shoot the brutal, slow-motion opening credits, and Mr. Copley thought he ran over and killed a stunt man during one of the chase scenes.

Additionally, the director and Mr. Copley answer questions culled from social media in a 12-minute featurette, obviously not as detailed or engaging as the commentary tracks, but it’s worth a look.

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