Once described as Britain’s answer to ‘The Terminator’, the cult 90’s sci-fi hit ‘Hardware’ finally gets a decent release courtesy of Optimum releasing on both DVD and Blu-ray. It is worth saying before I begin, that although we have categorised this movie as ‘gore’ please don’t be deceived, this movie is best described as a violent sci-fi movie. Similarly, the comparison to ‘The Terminator’ is quite a tenuous one also! – That movie was good!
This is not.
The plot sees the future, desolate and impoverished – think mad max style crossed with the ‘Fallout’ video games – where a drifter delivers the head of a military android to a cocky trader. In turn, the trader gives the head to his techy girlfriend who wires it up to a mainframe of some sort. The robot (Mark 13) assimilates and constructs itself out of household appliances and goes on a mad one, intent on killing her and anyone else who enters the apartment. A subplot runs throughout where the events of the movie are metaphors from an apocalyptic portion of the book of St Mark; oddly enough a similar plot can be seen running throughout South African director Richard Stanley’s ‘Dust Devil’, but the connections straddle the line between tenuous and pretentious.
The plot is a fairly good idea, and when the movie is fired up it works to an extent, even if the whole notion seems a little bit silly, with the rationale at the end being too ridiculous to accept, considering this is basically a killer robot movie. The characters are eclectic and certainly unique, but they seem a little bit out of place given the setting. There’s a junky Irelander who seems overly spiritual, but only when it suits, and a pervert whose sections just seem tacked on, a tough guy who just seems like an asshole and the woman, who despite being portrayed as a ‘bad girl’, is seemingly unable to do anything but run and scream when the shit hits the fan. The location of the apartment could have been a good opportunity to keep things quite claustrophobic, however, ambition to make this movie more than it was with elongated exposition meant that any tension which could have built was as easily dissipated.
The only thing the movie has going for it was the violence, which although sporadic, was quite graphic in parts. I won’t ruin the best bits but the wrist slitting and a man chopped in half were particular highlight’s. The effects were really pretty good and gruesome – hence the genre positioning of this review – and were a welcome distraction from the tedium which surrounded such set pieces. But again, this is not a gore movie.
‘Hardware’ is a movie that has generated its own niche following but I can’t really see why, other than the fact that I guess it could have been so much shitter. The creature design was cool and the gore good. I would say, that despite my negative review you may want to make your own mind up on this. If you like Stanley’s other movies then you’re probably thinking I’ve missed the whole poetry of the piece and so give it a go, but for the rest of you who just wondered what it was like you have my opinion. This is a fairly dull affair.