Rihanna Is An Army Of One In ‘Hard’ Video

In her 'couture military' clip, Rihanna is at her toughest, and most flamboyant.

It’s hard to tell which branch of the armed forces [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] is currently serving in (the Prada Guard? The Alexander McQueen Brigade? Christian Lacroix’s Amphibious Assault Squad?), but it seems fabulous, and the brand-new “Hard” video is proof.

As Rihanna herself told MTV News on the set of the video, the concept behind the clip is “couture military. … We have tanks, we have troops, we’ve got helicopters, we’ve got explosions.” And she wasn’t lying.

Directed by Melina Matsoukas (who’s helmed videos for the likes of Beyoncé, Eve and Lady Gaga), “Hard” is a high-gloss, expensive-looking thing, featuring Rihanna wearing a Mickey Mouse helmet (à la Gottfried Helnwein and Marilyn Manson), Rihanna striding through the desert in gigantic spiked shoulder pads (à la the Legion of Doom), tons of drill-team extras, a pink tank, plenty of explosions and an assault rifle or two. And Young Jeezy.

It’s clearly a big-budget production, but for all the expensive ephemera, what shines most about the video is Rihanna. She was born for the spotlight, to be the name atop the marquee, and in “Hard,” that’s more than apparent. She struts, she swaggers, and she’s clearly aware that this entire fantasy world has been created just for her, and so she works it for all it’s worth. If she weren’t already such a huge star, I’d call it “a star-making turn.” Instead, let’s just call it “par for the course.”

Like the name implies, “Hard” is plenty tough. Rihanna said she loved the song immediately, and it shows off a side she’s trying to cultivate on R, the take-no-prisoners, throw-abandon-to-the-wall bad girl.

This is Rihanna at her most flamboyant, her most gruff, and you can tell she’s loving every second of it, like a little girl given the keys to a massive wardrobe. There’s going to be plenty of vamping, not to mention more than a few costume changes. Only, on “Hard,” she’s also playing bombs and bullets and bravado too. She’s reporting for active duty. She’s an army of one.