Hardcore Henry (Russian: Хардкор; also known simply as Hardcore in some countries) is a 2015 science fiction action film written and directed by Ilya Naishuller (in his feature directorial debut), and produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Naishuller, Inga Vainshtein Smith, and Ekaterina Kononenko. Will Stewart provided additional writing for the film.
|Directed by||Ilya Naishuller|
|Written by||Ilya Naishuller|
|Edited by||Steve Mirkovich|
|Music by||Dasha Charusha|
|Box office||$16.8 million|
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 against a $2 million budget. Despite this, it was considered a box-office bomb in the US, due to STX spending $10 million to acquire global rights to the film.
A man wakes inside a laboratory on an airship. A scientist, Estelle, 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. She replaces his missing limbs with cybernetic prostheses, but mercenaries led by the psychokinetic Akan raid the ship before she can restore Henry's voice. Akan claims all of Estelle's research as his corporate property. He kills Estelle's scientists, but Henry and Estelle flee in an escape pod, landing in Moscow. The mercenaries follow and abduct Estelle.
Henry is rescued by a stranger named Jimmy, who informs him that his cybernetic limbs are running out of power, which will kill him if he cannot recharge. Jimmy is killed by corrupt police working for Akan, but Henry escapes. He is joined by Jimmy—somehow not dead, now an alcoholic bum—who removes a tracking device from Henry and informs him that one of Akan's associates, Slick Dimitry, has a charging pump which Henry needs to recharge his limbs with. The two are attacked, and again Jimmy is killed. Henry escapes, and hunts Dimitry through 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 distinct versions of Jimmy, who replace his pump. The brothel is attacked by Akan's forces. Akan taunts Henry about Estelle, who is being transported by an armored convoy, before ejecting Henry from the brothel. Outside, Henry encounters another Jimmy, who transports him to Akan's convoy. Henry finds Estelle — and Akan, who leaves Henry critically injured.
Jimmy finds and revives Henry, only to be shelled by a tank. After killing the tank crew and fending off a helicopter, Henry finds another Jimmy, who leads him to an abandoned hotel, where Jimmy is headquartered in a hidden laboratory. Here, the original Jimmy, a quadriplegic scientist, reveals that he is seeking revenge against Akan, who crippled him after his previous cyborg experiments failed. The other Jimmys are clones that he can control.
Jimmy realizes that Henry has been unknowingly broadcasting everything he has seen thus far to Akan via a live feed, and as Akan's mercenaries close in on the laboratory and the original Jimmy, Jimmy attacks Henry. Fending off Jimmy's clones, Henry convinces him that he did not know about the broadcast. Henry and the clones fight their way out, eventually killing the remainder of Akan's forces waiting in ambush by collapsing the laboratory on them.
Jimmy and Henry drive to Akan's headquarters. They fight their way into an elevator, but the original Jimmy and his last clone are both mortally wounded. Before dying, Jimmy thanks Henry for being a friend, and removes a memory blocker, gradually restoring Henry's memories. Henry fights his way to the highest floor, where he is greeted by Akan and an army of cyborg super-soldiers implanted with the data from the broadcast. The soldiers chase Henry to the roof.
Henry wipes out the entire army. Akan arrives and severely wounds Henry, nearly killing him. Shortly after, Estelle arrives as well. It is revealed that Estelle was actually Akan's wife. Everything that happened since Henry awoke was merely an elaborate ruse to field-test their ability to manipulate cyborg soldiers into doing anything - ranging from terrorism to world domination - to "rescue" their "wife".
Akan and Estelle attempt to leave in a helicopter, leaving Henry for dead. Henry blacks out, but a memory of his father revives and invigorates him. Henry reaches Akan and he uses his cybernetic eyestalk to decapitate him. He jumps onto the helicopter, presenting Akan's head. Estelle screams and shoots Henry, begging to know how he could do it. Henry uses a splatter of blood to write "E.Z.", as he blocks a bullet from hitting him, directing it back towards Estelle, causing her to stumble and fall out of the helicopter. As she clings to the bottom of the door, she begs Henry to look into his heart, and Henry immediately slams the door on her fingers, sending her falling to her death.
- 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 Dmitry 'Slick Dmitry'
- Oleg Poddubnyy as Yuri
- Cyrus Arnold as Nat (credited as "Young Bully #2")
- Ilya Naishuller as Timothy / Higher-Self Merc
- Will Stewart as Robbie
- Martin Cooke as Marty
- Dasha Charusha as Katya The Dominatrix
- Svetlana Ustinova as Olga The 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.
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. Many prototypes of the mask were used to film the movie. 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.
While it was not the first feature film to exclusively use first-person point of view, 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 $7.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $16.8 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 51%, based on 144 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. 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.
Due to STXfilms spending $10 million for global rights to the film, the sequel would be very unlikely. This was later proven on July 9, 2020, when Naishuller replied to a fan that a sequel is "very unlikely", but stated possibilities of a spiritual sequel.
- "Hardcore Henry (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 1, 2016.
- "HARDCORE HENRY (18)". British Board of Film Classification. March 29, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
- Nechayev, Andréi. "Ilya Naishuller: Moscow setting of 'Hardcore Henry' will thrill viewers". Russia Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved April 18, 2016.
- Suvorova, Nanalia. "Only Hardcore: How Ilya Naishuller made his way to Hollywood". RBC. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
- "Hardcore: The Movie Official Site". Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. Retrieved February 3, 2016.
- "Sure, 'Hardcore Henry' Bombed, but You Would Love It at Midnight | The Village Voice". www.villagevoice.com. Retrieved September 8, 2020.
- "Сергей Валяев: Трейсер, который стал голливудским оператором и продюсером". FurFur. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
- "How Hardcore Henry's POV shots were made". fxguide. Retrieved April 21, 2016.
- Субботний «Рамблер». Операторы "Хардкора"о травмах, цензуре и молчании главного героя Archived April 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
- ""Hardcore Henry" camera operator reveals the secrets of extreme shooting of the first First-person action movie in history". tvkinoradio.ru. Archived from the original on April 27, 2016. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
- "Hardcore Henry (2005) - Pełna obsada - Filmweb". Filmweb. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
- ""Hardcore Henry" camera operator reveals the secrets of extreme shooting of the first First-person action movie in history" (in Russian). tvkinradio.ru.
- Nieva, Richard (March 15, 2016). "This action movie was shot almost entirely with a GoPro". CNET.
- Bishop, Bryan (March 16, 2016). "The making of Hardcore Henry, the craziest first-person action movie you'll ever see". The Verge.
- "Hardcore Henry (2016)". VFX Legion.
- "Hardcore Henry – using Blender for VFX". Blender. May 4, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
- "Hardcore - The First Ever Action POV Feature Film". Indiegogo.
- "'Hardcore': TIFF Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
- "Watch The Trailer For TIFF's First-Person Sci-Fi Actioner". Blogs.indiewire.com. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
- "STX Entertainment Closing Deal For 'Hardcore': $10 Million And Wide Release Commitment –Toronto". Deadline. September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
- Galuppo, Mia (January 13, 2016). "'Hardcore Henry' Gets U.S. Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter.
- "Toronto International Film Festival Announces 2015 Award Winners" (PDF) (Press release). TIFF. September 20, 2015. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
- Busch, Anita (January 13, 2016). "STX's 'Hardcore' Set As 'Hardcore Henry' For Release On April 8". Deadline. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Lesnick, Silas (July 26, 2016). "July 26, 2016: This Week on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD". ComingSoon.net.
- "Melissa McCarthy Will Try To 'Boss' Around 'BvS' At Box Office; Will 'Hardcore Henry' Sway Audiences? — Preview". deadline.com.
- "'Batman V. Superman' Likely To Cross $300M Early Next Week; 'The Boss' Cashing In $21M Paycheck – B.O. Update". deadline.com.
- "'Jungle Book' Repeats, 'Huntsman' Falls On His Axe and 'Zootopia' Tops $900M Worldwide". BoxOfficeMojo.com.
- "Hardcore Henry". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 15, 2016.
- "Hardcore Henry". Metacritic. Retrieved April 13, 2016.
- "Рецензии на фильм Хардкор / Hardcore Henry (2016), отзывы".
- "Hardcore Henry Review". March 14, 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
- James Peckham (April 5, 2016). "Hardcore Henry 2 may happen - if you watch this one legally". Retrieved September 29, 2017.
- "Hardcore Henry 2 Updates: Why The Sequel Hasn't Happened". ScreenRant. August 1, 2020. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
- @Naishuller (July 9, 2020). "@Cillian6115 Thanks! The sequel is very unlikely, but never say never to a spiritual sequel" (Tweet) – via Twitter.