The title of Hardcore Henry is likely to mislead and disappoint smut junkies. Very little porno content here, fleeting glimpses of a Russian brothel aside. Oh well, you can’t please everyone. The movie may have been born in Russia, but it seems tailor-made for America, where violence is happy to enter the fray when sex stops selling. Yes, fans of adrenaline-pumping shoot-em’-ups are sure to find this bullet-ejaculating orgasm of a film more stimulating than even a good ol’ pump-and-thrust picture ever could be. So intense is the action that even a ceaseless carper about gratuitous thrills like yours truly found himself liking it far more than he should.
Rehash. Recycle. Revisit. Repackage. Reboot. The English language has a veritable plethora of words suggesting the traversal of familiar terrain, perhaps because there are so many aesthetic products that do little else. The latest permutation in the Star Wars franchise is no different despite its absurdly bloated critical acclaim, having precious few qualities to recommend it other than, I suppose, its comforting predictability.
The title of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence is fitting, for its hackneyed premise—that there may be a latent lust for violence in even the most innocuous-appearing person—calls to mind the narrator’s dronings from the America’s Serial Killers documentary I watched a while back. Like so many films that are calculated to shock, its presentation is surprisingly safe. Skinning the film’s chest of its blood-caked epithelial layer reveals the heart of a story beating as regularly as the ticking of a time bomb of which the viewer is the only real victim.