HARDCORE HENRY REVIEW

Stupid, ridiculously violent, messed up BUT . . . not bad at all.

Henry is resurrected from death with no memory, and he must save his wife from a telekinetic warlord with a plan to bio-engineer soldiers.

Imagine if Crank was made into a f**ked up first person shoot em up video game walk through and you wouldn’t be far off this.

A disjointed flashback with a wasted Tim Roth (Wasted as in talent NOT wasted in the other variety) and an ultra-violent 80s style James Bond title sequence didn’t build high hopes. Seriously I wasn’t ready to see a dude glassed in the throat super slo-mo styley within the first minute.

However, the opening lab sequence was engaging enough as Henry received new robotic limbs and instructions from the lovely Haley Bennett (The Girl on the Train). The make-up effects and CGI were impressive.

The whole thing felt like it had been taken straight out of a video game. The hum drum clunky dialogue between the scientists made me laugh. The gamer nerd in me smiling from ear to ear.

The only problem was that these are the sort of sequences I frantically press any button on the controller to skip.

BUT it didn’t mess about. Quickly establishing the premise and throwing us straight into the chaos by the 15 minute marker. Some guff about bio-engineered soldiers and Henry being the only one who can stop them. Blah, blah, blah.

Danila Kozlovksy (Vampire Academy)’s Akan looked like something out of Devil May Cry. The blond hair. The creepy demeanour.

His camp panto performance shouldn’t have worked as well as it did. BUT he was the perfect villain for this piece. Lapping it up and delivering one of the best lines I’ve heard in a while: “If I took this moment and put it in a cup of tea, I wouldn’t need any sugar”. Brilliant.

However, there was one man that stole the show. And sorry Henry, it wasn’t you.

Sharlto Copley (District 9), take a bow! I can’t tell if his turn was a master stroke or just plain bloody awful. Either way it was funny as hell. He was brilliant as Jimmy, Henry’s partner-in-crime.

Constantly popping up between each violent encounter as an even more ridiculous avatar. Be it an uptight colonel, a pot smoking hippie, a Sinatra crooner or a camouflaged hedge (Yep. You read that right).

What a ride! The action set-pieces and chase sequences were relentless as Henry jumped off moving cars, buildings and clocking up the body count in a number of brutally violent ways.

At one point, out hero strangles a dude with his own robotic eye socket! WTF! All aided by a cracking soundtrack. A mish-mesh of Russian techno and 80s synth pop.

The first person POV perspective was fun. The only problem was that as the action got more chaotic, the more disoriented I felt. The shaki-cam drew flashbacks to my first viewing of Cloverfield. Didn’t think I could get vertigo watching a film. Sheesh.

You could tell this was written by a gamer fan boy. The riotous brothel shoot-em-up was ridiculous. Especially when Jimmy upset some attractive katana-bearing ninja dominatrix assassins. I’m not making this up, I swear!

What helped was that writer/director Ilya Naishuller didn’t take this too seriously. It was fun for all the wrong reasons BUT done in the right way. I laughed at the chaotic conversations between the Russians as they kicked off, throwing the subtitles into one big illiterate mess!

The only problem was that as it drew to its stupendous finale, I felt exhausted. The carnage cranking up to 11 as a mangled Kill Bill/A Clockwork Orange homage-inspired showdown took the biscuit. Seriously, at one point, Henry was climbing up bodies suspended in mid-air.

I knew it wasn’t going to win merits for plausibility BUT it really bugged me that Akan was the only one with telekinetic abilities. Why? Something to do with the bio-engineering, I guess.

However, it all spiralled into one big bloody mess that ended rather abruptly. BUT by that point, I didn’t care. After the random cameos, I expected Henry’s big reveal to be somebody . . . big. No disrespect to Andrei Dementiov.

If you’re up for a frantic no-holds barred action bloodfest to kill 90 minutes, then look no further. Otherwise steer clear.

2.5/5

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*NEW* THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN REVIEW *NEW*

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I’ll think I’ll wait for the next train.

A slow burning thriller that (with a little perseverance) delivered a decent pay-off.

A divorcee (Emily Blunt) becomes entangled in a missing persons investigation that promises to send shock waves throughout her life.

Based on the bestselling novel . . . How many more times are Hollywood going to scrape the barrel? I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the Paula Hawkins novel BUT have been told on good authority (by my Mum and Aunt who may or may not be scouting through this review) that it stayed pretty close to its source material.

The slow burning pace and flicking about subdued my griping. The fractured time frame spanning from six months to the present kept things interesting. Mainly because I had no idea what was going on.

BUT that was the main appeal for me as we were told tidbits of a disjointed story through an unreliable narrator; struggling alcoholic Rachel. Emily Blunt was brilliant as the plastered protagonist. You really felt for the broken beauty. Her fascination with a house, that the line stops by every day, soon borderlines on obsession.

It felt like a noir flick with all the shady characters; Rachel drinking to forget, the alluring but flawed Haley Bennett’s (The Magnificent Seven remake) fooling around and manipulating men to her own devices and Rebecca Ferguson’s (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) depressed housewife not quite living the perfect life.

The different viewpoints from the three ladies left me trying to decipher whose story to believe. You could feel your empathy changing towards each character as we delved further into their pasts. BUT things reached boiling point when Rachel woke up (from another drunk train ride) covered in blood with no recollection of the night before.

If anything, The Girl on the Train was very much in the same vein as Before I Go To Sleep (Another recommended thriller) with Rachel’s drunken blackouts and inability to piece anything together plummeting her into a dangerous pursuit for the truth. Unwittingly setting herself up as the prime suspect in a murder case.

That’s not to say there weren’t enough red herrings. The small supporting cast played the parts perfectly. It was good to see Luke Evans play something other than a panto villain in a horror flick or Fast and Furious movie. He played Megan’s brooding and possessive husband well.

I was also impressed to see Alison Janney play a straight role as Detective Riley. Especially after her turn in that terrible sitcom Mom. Laura Prepon (Orange is The New Black) didn’t do a bad turn as Rachel’s supportive friend Cathy. Justin Theroux (The Leftovers) was a solid lead as Rachel’s ex Tom. Reluctant to completely shut Rachel out from his life.

I was disappointed that Phoebe from Friends (Lisa Kudrow) had such a small and dismal role. Anyone could played her. The same could be said for Bodhi from Point Break (Edgar Ramirez) as the sulky therapist who desperately tried to evade Megan’s flirtatious advances.

The unravelling was intriguing enough BUT the pace did tend to meander along, killing a good portion of the momentum, and the endless flashbacks soon became very repetitive. Especially the memory flashes to that blasted tunnel! We kept being shown the same images with no new information or progress.

However, once things began to piece together, the final 20 minutes was compelling and nail biting. Some will argue that with only a small number of characters; there are only so many possible outcomes. BUT I can honestly say I didn’t call the twist and even if people sussed it early, the aftermath was still pretty damn tense with a couple of revelations along the way.

Whether that rule will apply for fans of the book is another story. The Da Vinci Code did everything to the letter and I was bored to tears watching the film adaptation. Only because I knew everything that was going to happen. BUT the first two Harry Potter films on the other hand 👌🏻

I didn’t go in expecting much and came out pleasantly surprised.

A good cast, aided with some great suspense, did just enough to drudge through the lengthy pace and stuttering flashbacks to make this one to watch.

3/5

*NEW* THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN REVIEW *NEW*

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Not that magnificent BUT still worth a watch. Yee-ha!

Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

It’s always going to be tough to follow in the footsteps of the iconic 1960 Western classic (When does anything ever beat the original?) BUT thanks to a talented cast and some action packed set pieces, this did just enough to stand on its own two feet.

I was happy to see another Western (NOT penned by Quentin Tarantino) sneak into the busy schedule of endless rom-coms, sci-fi epics and teen blockbusters.

The slow burning opener didn’t build my hopes up. The lacklustre lines, the cliched townspeople, that feeble introduction to a weak and weasley villain Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard – Jarhead). I was reaching for my tomahawk!

BUT thankfully once the mysterious Joe Chisolm wandered into town, my griping was subdued.

I couldn’t think of anybody better to follow in Yul Bryner’s footsteps than Denzel Washington. He was everything you expected. Cool, calculated and somebody you wouldn’t want to mess with.

The initial ‘getting the gang together’ spiel did take a while BUT I didn’t mind watching each member make their introduction into the mix.

Chris Pratt stole the show yet again by being . . . Chris Pratt. He’s no Steve McQueen BUT the card wielding smooth talker delivered enough charm and quick witted one liners to keep things entertaining.

It was good to see Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) get a meatier role as Jack Horne. If Hodor came from the Deep South, he would probably look like him. “I think that bear’s wearing people clothes”.

Ethan Hawke was brilliant as the decorated veteran Goodnight Robicheaux. I wish more was made out of his partnership with the knife wielding Billy Rocks.

Finally Byung-hun Lee was able to show off those blade skills in something other than a G.I. Joe movie!

The pace dragged like a mule in the desert. BUT once the gang finally warmed up to one another and the uneasy alliance began, I was pleasantly surprised.

The heated tension subsiding into idle banter. Faraday (Pratt) and Vazquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) delivered some of the better exchanges.

I was a little disappointed that the feisty Haley Bennett (Hardcore Henry) was pushed into the background after taking a pivotal role in persuading the men to save the town. BUT this was always going to be about the Seven.

And that was the problem. There were too many characters. Luke Grimes (Fifty Shades of Grey) was completely unnecessary. He brought nothing to the mix. Another cook spoiling the broth.

Martin Sensmeier got lost in the thick of the action after making an impressionable introduction as Red Harvest; the Comanche dispatched on a tribal quest.

Mauro Fiore’s cinematography was breathtaking. He really captured the picturesque landscape. Brilliant.

And one thing can be agreed; Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day/The Equalizer) knows how to deliver a shootout!

The tension was perfectly executed as the gang bumped heads with “the local law enforcement”. Ticking all the boxes for a good ol’ fashioned Western.

I was hoping that Sarsgaard would have been a little stronger. He was such a nothingy villain.

I could get that with an army of a hundred mercenaries and endless wealth that he would be a little cocky BUT every scene he was involved in, he just didn’t do anything for me.

I wasn’t unsettled or hooked. Just bored and wondering what Denzel and that dude from Guardians of the Galaxy were up to?

For those familiar with the original, it stayed very true to the story line (Despite claiming to be a “reboot”). BUT it was still somewhat of a mixed bag.

It delivered enough bang for your buck and really pushed that 12A limit to the max with the violence. The number of flying axes and endless machine gun fodder. The body count was crazy.

BUT with so many characters in play; too many got lost in the mix of endless explosions and casualties, which spoiled things for me.

However, despite a drawn out pace and weak villain, this was still a fun, action packed blockbuster that complimented the original and delivered a thrilling and satisfying finale.

Let’s hope this might trigger a comeback for the Western.

3/5