Comic book stories that get film spin-offs have a varied past. For every Superman or The Watchmen there is a counterpoint, or two, such as Spiderman 3 or Batman & Robin. Hardware just happens to fall into the latter category. It hails from 2000 AD, the same comic that spawned Judge Dredd, but we can’t really call that a rousing endorsement. Or can we? Unfortunately, this may just be another in the myriad of post-apocalyptic films that cinephiles have been subjected to over the last few decades.
Unh, another one?
The story begins, simply enough, with a Max Rockatansky wannabe wandering a red, desert wasteland.
He finds some junk robot parts on his travels and, after a quick boat ride with Lemmy, decides to sell them to a junk dealer. Moses (Dylan McDermott) just happens to be hanging about the junk dealer’s operation and decides to bring the robot skull home to his “artist” girlfriend, Jill. She paints the robot head up like a confused Captain America, and that’s when the fun begins, sort of. At least the radio DJ we keep hearing is Iggy Pop.
Good intentions don’t necessarily make a good movie, but this film tried. The overall tone of the film successfully captured that hopeless, why bother living feel that any good post-apocalypse story should have. That, along with some good cameos from Lemmy and Iggy Pop, added a nice sense of 90s cheesy nostalgia.
After Moses leaves his shop, Alvy the junk dealer decides to do a little research on the robot parts. He discovers that the model is a M.A.R.K. 13, and then it kills him. The killing of an obese midget on film should be entertaining but, unfortunately, the scene is handled terribly to avoid showing this pathetic robotic killing machine.
“No, if we show it you might laugh”
Anyway, before dying Alvy does manage to notify Moses of a few items of importance. Its model, M.O., which is to kill everyone because they suck, and its structural defect. The structural defect is, exactly as you have surmised, a really bad plot device; it has an insulation problem.
Upon learning of the robot’s model, Moses knows intrinsically that it’s a biblical reference. Everyone should know that. This film is loaded with religious symbolism and iconography. Oh wait, no it’s not. How he put those two things together shall remain a mystery. But, sarcasm aside, this leads him to the Bible verse of Mark 13, from which he quotes “no flesh shall be spared”.
He looks like a religious man
The film rolls on and Moses leaves to see about Alvy, leaving Jill alone with the other pieces of the would-be Terminator. Which honestly is more akin to Johnny Five on a grumpy day.
I am alive!
Moses’ leaving also paves the way for the creepy pervert neighbor to come on over. His guise is that he’s checking on Jill, but no one should ever open the door for something so utterly repulsive. From the moment this fat waste of humanity appears on screen, the viewers only thought’s are “Kill this pig!” or “Hey, I sweat like that.” Wait, that last one was wrong. Maybe.
Finally, we get to the third act and some people die, some people live, but the viewer no longer cares because what should have been a forty-five minute PSA on the dangers robots designed to kill people, has been stretched out to an hour and a half of self-indulgent half-assed effects work. Suffice it to say that all of the tension flew out the window. Literally. Ah, and remember that bad plot device mentioned earlier? Yeah, if you get the robot wet, it will short circuit and die. It’s just as anti-climactic as it sounds.
If you’re really longing for the 90s, and can’t find a decent robot film from that era, or can’t go another minute without seeing Dylan McDermott, you should check this out. Just don’t blame me when you’re bored and there’s still thirty minutes left.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for every time MARK 13 kills someone
Take a Drink: for every time you see a bit of piss-poor technology
Drink a Shot: when you see or hear any long forgotten rock icons (Gwar is in there too!)
Drink a Shot: when the filmmakers try to shoehorn in some religion