“Hardcore Henry”: a litany against growing up and women

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 10.51.50

The trailer for this film doesn’t spoil anything: it tells almost everything about this film, which (surprise) doesn’t pass the Bechdel test. In fact, women aren’t merely used as objects in this film, but as pins designed to strike down. When you see women who stand up for themselves, they’re denigrated into stereotypes, e.g. whiny, hen-like smithereens of the True Heroes, which, of course, are The Men. The Strong Men with Big Muscles and Bits Of Robot Inside, but with Some Kind Of…Pathos?

There’s no pathos. There’s nothing veiling the fact that this is a film which seeks to emulate Neill Blomkamp‘s films1, going as far as casting the very limited actor Sharlto Copley in a slew of rĂ´les designed to be funny and show his breadth, which is wide enough to require a microscopic lens that only scientists at CERN have access to.

I can’t stop coming back to how this film views women. How the director and writer, and, indeed, every single being who has been involved with this muck, must see women. Sexy things, or disparaging must-haves? Both? When two women actually speak at the same time in this film, the man who is speaking with them just says something to sedate them and then, to another man, says “Sometimes it’s just easier to say yes”.


There’s one attempt at psychology in the film, apart from one scene where, naturally, a woman is displayed as highly deceptive and deserves to die. Some kind of recurring psychological theme in this film, is invoked as the lead character remembers being bullied in his childhood. A slow-motion shot of his robot being thrown into a brick wall. Actually, that scene is kind of the leitmotif for this film: something shiny being destroyed.

Oh! There’s even time for a homophobic two-line rant in this film! As one of Copley’s charades is vented towards the viewer, he says something akin to “There’s a certain stigma attached to blokes who like musicals. I just wanna get it out there that I’m as straight as an arrow, get it?” and then he kills people. Thanks for letting us know.

Then some scenes of women being prostitutes. These women are in the middle of a group sex scene with another of Copley’s characters, but the lead character’s entrance doesn’t disturb them in the least. Neither does his apparent dying, which only entices them to feeling him up and suggesting sex. Naturally, as they’re women, the plaything for Man. The Man. The Big, Strong Man.

The first-person-shooter point of view in this film was quite enthralling at times, but that’s about it that made me like the film. I’d rather spend time hanging out between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump and watch fireworks go off in the sky, than see this film again; it’d be quite the same experience, I’m sure.

The violence is another thing. I have nothing against the showing of violence, if it serves a purpose. This is merely here to look cool, and give people kicks. Well, if watching people dying to bad music – apart from Devendra Banhart’s music, which somehow has crept into the soundtrack in the form of two very good songs – is your thing, good luck with staying human. That’s it. Oh, and if you think I’m spoiling this film through this review, don’t play “Max Payne”, as that will basically have ruined this entire film for you (apart from the fact that the game is far better than this film).

The people who have made this film – yes, including your one-minute join, Tim Roth – should have seen “Mad Max: Fury Road”. By all accounts, they probably have, but deflected everything beauteous and fair about it.

I’ll let the very last line spoken in the film ring out as a kind of air around this sycophantic, anti-feministic clownboat of a film: “Listen to your heart.”

  1. He gets a “special thank” in the credits.[back]
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