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Soundtrack review: Hardcore Henry (Darya Charusha – 2016)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Hardcore Henry (Darya Charusha – 2016)


“Hardcore Henry” is a 2015 Russian-American science fiction action film written and directed by Ilya Naishuller. The film stars Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, and Tim Roth. The movie is a first person action film in which the audience sees everything through the eyes of Henry, a man resurrected from the brink of death as a cybernetic super-soldier who remembers nothing about his past. He is trying to save his wife Estelle, who has been kidnapped by Akan, a powerful warlord with a plan for bio-engineering soldiers. In the unfamiliar city of Moscow, Henry tries to avoid being killed while discovering the truth behind his identity. Darya Charusha wrote the score.

A minimalistic and moody sound makes me connect very easily with a score. For me familiarity and especially the kind I hear in the opening minute of “Husband and wife (Estelle’s theme)” is a good thing because it gets me very fast in the reflective mood I need to enjoy a score like this one more. This electronic theme, combining melodic with quiet, makes me care for Estelle right from the start and I become invested in what’s going on in the movie and score. In contrast with that we get to meet her kidnapper in “Akan’s theme” which is dark and very uncomfortable. This cue makes my skin crawl.

I like the visceral industrial sound of “Hardcore Henry”. This is a movie about a cybernetic super-soldier and the score tells me that even without seeing the movie. I need to hear raw and metallic sounds; I need a score that feels cold and aggressive with the rare occasional emotional moments.  The action parts are spectacular and the tense and quieter pieces tell me when Estelle is on screen. A motif like the opening of “100000 baseball bats” is a show stopper for me; this kind of mood is my soft spot.

I am a big fan of electronic music. I prefer the dreamy and reflective kind but in the right doses the pounding and violent sound of a cue like “Eat his fucking heart” hits the spot and gets my blood flowing. One thing’s for shore, Darya Charusha’s composition gets to me. There’s no way I can keep music like this in the background or not pay attention to it because it grabs me and shakes me and throws me into walls. I can only imagine how great it sounds in context. Judging by the score this movie will be balls to the walls nonstop action.

If you are looking for a loud and exciting electronic score you will love this one. Thrills galore and perfect for the story at hand.

Cue rating: 86 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 52

Album excellence: 43%


Husband and Wife (Estelle’s Theme)

The Escape

Eat His F***ing Heart


Half Machine – Half Pussy

100,000 Baseball BatsSomething About a Spine

The Broadcast

Baby, Are You OK?

Go Spill Theirs


Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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