Free Fire finally comes out this week! Get your tickets here!
If there's one thing I’m really good at arguing, it is how Hardcore Henry was both a criminally overlooked and unjustly dismissed film. In those discussions, to my point, I could talk about how the film was a groundbreaking technical achievement, or elaborate on the degree of insanely amazing stunts pulled off in real time. But for me, the most insanely discounted thing about the film was Sharlto Copley’s awesome addition(s) to the whole thing.
In this Ilya Naishuller directed first-person gory romp, our protagonist Henry is brought back to life with no memory, but finds himself battling against hordes of goons, in order to save his wife from a crazy evil, telekinetic dude named Akan. All that before Henry’s battery-power unit runs out of juice.
Henry’s only way of understanding what the hell is going on, is through his on again, off again handler, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley). Jimmy is great at hilariously filling Henry, and the audience, in on bits of expositional information. The only problem is, not too long after meeting his new friend, Jimmy dies and then somehow comes back and then dies and comes back, etc…
If you haven’t seen the film yet, this is gonna get super spoilery. You have been warned.
The reason for Jimmy’s ability to keep “coming back,” is due to the fact that they are clones of Jimmy prime, who also has a history with Akan. While helping this dude create bio-engineered soldiers, poor Jimmy was beaten to a pulp and getting his spine snapped. This left our Jimmy prime alone, broken, paralyzed and searching for revenge.
Well instead of crying over spilled milk and spinal fluid, Jimmy prime went to work to grow his own clones that he is able to control through a VR interface as an avatar. Each of these rascally Jimmy clones formed their own personalities and looks. And that is where Sharlto comes in to do Sharlto things, because this dude came up with and gave each Jimmy their own sensibilities in a comically transformative performance.
The first Jimmy we see is the low-key one. He is pretty much just Sharlto showing up to give us the low-down on what is going on and to set Henry on his path. Sure, it is great to see him onscreen but don't get too excited, as this is a vershort-liveded Jimmy.
While riding a bus, Henry runs into the closet fashionista, homeless Jimmy. The costume does a lot of the work here but Sharlto brings a little gruffness to this incarnation. He is also short lived, but in the time he spends onscreen he manages to fill Henry in on how to go about getting a recharge for his failing power supply.
Cokehead Jimmy is probably Sharlto’s most unhinged performances ever. This dude is found in a strip club, doing coke off the butts of strippers, wearing nothing but a speedo and a dragon tattoo chest piece. In true Scarface fashion, once the bad guys come knocking, this Jimmy does a mound of coke and goes out guns blazing. During interviews for Hardcore Henry, the cast and crew did say that Sharlto would stay in whatever character for whatever they were filming that day. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for this particular day.
With Namaste hippie biker Jimmy, Sharlto gives us a character that is at a hilarious internal war with his own beliefs. In one super great interrogation scene, Jimmy compares a joint to “higher self” and an Uzi to “ego.” This Jimmy is great and gets the second longest lasting screen time without being murdered.
Sniper Jimmy is straight out of a Call of Duty game. This dude is in full camo and speaks in rough and low heavy British tones. Sniper Jimmy gets an incredibly cool, hilarious and homophobic sniping scene where he explains to Henry that an infatuation with musicals doesn’t necessarily make anyone gay.
While Jimmy prime plays Sinatra’s “Under My Skin” over the labs stereo we get a look at Sinatra Jimmy. This is Sharlto dressed to the nines while doing some fancy footwork in the stylings of Frank Sinatra. During interviews for the film, Sharlto talked about how much fun he had with this particular Jimmy during the shoot.
The machete wielding, Mohawk wearing, anti-establishment punk rock Jimmy also gives his rendition of “Under My Skin” with a snarling Sid Vicious undertone. I wish we had got more of this guy. It seems like Sharlto was having fun with him, but it isn’t long after flipping off Henry that he sacrifices himself for the greater good with a hand grenade.
Colonel Jimmy is my favorite of the Jimmy’s. This British WWII throwback is Sharlto being character actor perfection. Much like a GI Joe, he comes loaded with his weapon, Emma Gene, grenades and dry wit. This Jimmy gets the most screen time and for good reason, he is just plain awesome.
The final Jimmy that we are introduced to is the proto-baby Jimmy. This version of Jimmy shows you how the sausage is made. Apparently, all Jimmy’s start off as creepy opaque babies being grown in a lab. Each of these babies have a head molded from Sharlto’s own, making for what is one of the creepiest scenes in the movie. I do wonder if Sharlto or any of the crew got to keep any of the lil guys.