A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hardcore Henry is an action film that plays out like a first-person-shooter video game. Filmed entirely from a first-person perspective, it's kinetic, stylish, dizzying, and extremely violent. There are hundreds of dead bodies, gallons of blood, shooting, stabbing, fighting, impaled bodies, severed body parts, explosions, people on fire, and much more. Plus, there's very mature sexual content in a scene that takes place in a gentleman's club; viewers will see topless women (and one full-frontal) and suggested sex acts. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "c--k." Supporting characters smoke pot, snort cocaine, and drink vodka, mainly for comic effect. Because of the graphic violence and sex, the movie isn't really appropriate for anyone under 18.
Hardcore Henry is entertaining and has funny parts, but is horrifically violent and should've been NC-17
What's the story?
Henry wakes up in a lab, with no memory. A woman named Estelle (Haley Bennett) tells him that she's his wife and proceeds to attach a robotic arm and leg to his body. The evil Akan (Danila Kozlovsky), who seems to have telekinetic abilities, interrupts, and Henry and Estelle escape. After a crash and a shoot-out, Henry meets Jimmy (Sharlto Copley), who wants to help. He informs Henry that, now that he's a cyborg, he'll soon need a battery change. Jimmy is shot, and Henry finds himself on the run again. Miraculously, Jimmy turns up, in disguise, and points Henry in the right direction: to find and take down Akan before he has a chance to unleash more robotic super-soldiers.
Is it any good?
Shot entirely from a first-person point of view and staged like a video game, this action extravaganza doesn't care about characters, but as an experimental exercise in pure style, it's pretty cool. Director Ilya Naishuller, of the Russian indie rock band Biting Elbows, is known for making similar first-person music videos on YouTube. It's trickier to sustain that kind of energy for 90 minutes, but he pulls it off in HARDCORE HENRY, borrowing ideas from first-person-shooter games -- i.e. the hero wakes up with amnesia and can't speak, other characters tell him what his tasks are, etc.
The camerawork is fluid and kinetic but still rapid-fire; it can be dizzying (there have been reports of viewers getting motion sick during screenings). Copley gets a chance to shine (or show off), playing several characters with different personas and accents. Kozlovsky's Akan is a rather dull villain, but Bennett is an appealing femme fatale. One scene even references Robert Montgomery's Lady in the Lake, which used the first-person perspective technique all the way back in 1947.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Hardcore Henry's extreme violence. How does this it make you feel? Does exposure to violent media desensitize kids to violence?
The gentleman's club scene includes lots of nudity and implied sex. Does this add anything to the movie? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
How does the first-person perspective work? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? How does it compare to other action movies?
- In theaters: April 8, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: July 26, 2016
- Cast: Sharlto Copley, Haley Bennett, Danila Kozlovsky
- Director: Ilya Naishuller
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: non-stop bloody brutal violence and mayhem, language throughout, sexual content/nudity and drug use
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.