First things first, Hardwired is a low-budget, poorly constructed, and directed movie. The special effects are mostly lame, people are randomly hitting keyboard buttons half of the time, and there are some acting problems. Now, those are the bad things. However, there’s one thing that’s so good that it overshadows all the flaws and makes this movie stand out. And that’s the idea that after all of the world gets crammed with advertising the next ad space is in your head. If you’ve seen a certain Futurama episode, you might recognize some of the plot. This subversive and utterly disgusting practice will surely find its way into our lives in some form. So, it’s best we better start thinking about the implications of it. The opening scenes with advertisement messages or holograms plastered all over historic landmarks like Hoover Dam, Stonehenge and others were pure perfection.
Featuring Val Kilmer and Cuba Gooding Jr. in lead roles, this B movie could have been a masterpiece. I don’t know why they watered it down with clichés and lame action sequences. There are also some strong cyberpunk vibes showing just how much potential the initial idea had. The atmosphere reminded me of all those similarly themed eighties and nineties movies. So, if you’re nostalgic about them, Hardwired offers some relief. Surely, it’s not Blade Runner or Scanners but more akin to Johnny Mnemonic, Hardware, or The Lawnmower Man. Not to mention other countless B movies. Working within the constraints of the $5 million budget (I’m guessing a large part went towards the actors), Ernie did the best he could with the script he was given. You can use this to your advantage and amuse yourself like with the rest of the movies so bad that they are good.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow! Corporations control and observe everything that’s going on with a huge network of surveillance devices. After a horrible car crash that claims the life of his pregnant wife, Luke Gibson finds himself in a hospital alive and relatively well. Something that’s quite odd since his insurance expired. He discovers that the Hope Corporation implanted a special chip in his brain in order to save his life. However, that will turn out to be just the beginning of his problems.
Hardwired shares some similarities with Matrix like the hackers and cyberspace but it also has a lot of original elements. It touches upon a lot of interesting themes like surveillance and all-powerful corporations. Something that’s currently going on in China for example with its surveillance system. A system tied into the Social Credit System where every citizen is scored based upon its status and behavior. You might say that the Chinese people are living in the future we saw the glimpses of in eighties science fiction movies. Exactly because of this try to let go of your vanity and check out Hardwired for what it is: a dark, futuristic and retro flick. Who knows, maybe in a couple of next decades becomes a cult classic.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention young Tatiana Maslany as Punk Red, as one of the hackers helping Luke. You might know her from the television shows like Orphan Black and Perry Mason. And those hackers are led by none other than Michael fucking Ironside!
Director: Ernie Barbarash
Writer: Michael Hurst
Cast: Val Kilmer, Cuba Gooding Jr., Rachel Luttrell, Rob Carpenter, Ali Liebert, Tatiana Maslany