If it were possible to give a film a rating lower than one lava lamp, we'd give it to Hardware. This post-apocalyptic "killer android on the loose" film hurt us deeply. Hardware didn't just stick the knife in, it twisted.
The plot is as follows: In the far flung future, desert-scavenging rascal Moses (Dylan McDermott) brings home the hulk of a dead robot for his erstwhile girlfriend, Jill (Stacey Travis). Jill is a bitter, self-absorbed sculptor of metal, who creates political art while listening to the Post-Apocalyptic News Network. There are several other scummy characters hanging around the woodwork, but they're too stupid to mention.
Surprise! The metal robot "Mo" brought home is actually a killer android who can do everything killer androids have been known to do: use infrared vision, repair itself from a heap of junk, and inject people with deadly poisons. And when Mo goes out for a snack, the robot rebuilds itself and tries to kill the sleeping Jill. Predictably, Jill wakes up first and the fight begins. You can probably guess what happens next. The robot gets killed and comes back to life about 8 times.
Hardware desperately wants to be several other (better) movies at once. It tries to combine the plot and action of The Terminator with the symbolism of Until the End of the World, plus some biblical hey-nonny thrown in. For example, the android in the film is named Mark 13 -- not because he's the thirteenth model, but after a doom-prophesying passage in the Bible. We think the writer/director wanted to say some very "deep" things in this film, perhaps about the new isolationist tendencies in domestic America. But frankly, this film hurt too much for us to analyze it that deeply.
The cinematography in Hardware was confused, alternating between gritty desert footage (which had us whispering "Dune... Arrakis... desert planet...") and claustrophobic, sweaty, Blade Runner-ish apartments with malfunctioning security systems. It's as if, in the future, no one has time for housework and absolutely NO ONE takes a shower. It's hard to tell what's going on most of the time, especially when it comes to the robot's actions, because it's all too dark. In fact, the bathroom in Jill's apartment is the only place in the whole movie that seems to have a light bulb.
If you're looking for action in Hardware, you'll be disappointed there too. The body count is low for a supposed killer-android film. Mark 13 kills a total of 5 people. One death occurs off-screen, and one death is accidental (a gun goes off in the hand of a dying security guard, and the bullet kills his partner). The only really satisfying gore in the film involves a really creepy guy (William Hootkins) who has been spying on Jill through the apartment complex security cameras. We were extremely relieved to see him go. But then, we were extremely relieved to see the credits roll, too. So relieved, in fact, that we didn't even bother to keep track of whether our man Moses survived or didn't. We just wanted to hurt this film.
It seems we've been seeing a lot of stinkers lately, but we're going to have to tell you to give Hardware a pass as well. The dialog is flat, the action is difficult to puzzle out through the smoke and darkness, and there isn't anything here that hasn't been done eight times better somewhere else.
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