The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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--Matt

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hardwired (2009)

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This was released on Tuesday, the same day as Command Performance, and my plan was to review them one after the other (obviously the Dolph film had first priority-- obviously). Problem was, Netflix didn't have enough copies of it, and I was stuck with the dreaded Very Long Wait, which turned into "For Fri: Hardwired" after I returned three films on Wednesday. That Netflix, what are we gonna do with them?

Hardwired takes place "a few years" into the future, where the economy is even worse than it is now, and huge corporations had to bail out the government when it couldn't bail out the huge corporations. If that doesn't make enough sense, Hope Industries has decided that we've saturated all our advertising space, and we need to put a computer chip in our brains that makes us hallucinate pitchmen and women until we buy their product. If people don't like the chip, it explodes, simple as that. 660 people were chosen for inclusion in the test process: 659 loners, and one family man, Cuba Gooding jr., who just happened to piss off one of the people who chose the people to get the chip. That was a mistake, because an underground group has been trying to take down Hope, and now they have their man in Gooding. Turns out to be a good choice.

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This is one of those big brother cautionary tales of what happens when we let corporations have too much control and too much influence in our government. Makes sense, though you could've spent a lot less money by just documenting the current healthcare crisis, no? What's even funnier is, by its very nature, this film stands to give corporations what they want: a new avenue for exposure. Maybe having the Golden Arches on the Hoover Dam is supposed to tell us how bad things could get, but it also reminds me that I could use a Big Mac, no? Also, any originality this film could've claimed was already taken by the Bruce Payne film Paranoia 1.0, which did the same thing in a much cooler and more stylistic manner-- and without all the product placement too. So what are we left with: a semi-remarkable sci-fi actioner with Cuba Gooding jr., Michael Ironside, and a Val Kilmer with a horrible hairdo.

It's true that maybe I'm being a little hard on this, because, after all, it is just a DTV movie. But so was Streets of Blood, and that film was great. Not only that, it would've been better with Cuba Gooding jr. and Michael Ironside accompanying Kilmer and Sharon Stone. The other point is Command Performance, with just Dolph in it, was a lot more fun to watch. Cuba Gooding jr. and Val Kilmer are great actors, but giving Kilmer bad hair and even worse dialog, and then making Gooding jr. have these silly scowling expressions on his face and even worse responses to Kilmer's bad dialog, just makes us wonder what happened to them as actors, and think they've fallen so far. Why not just cast Lorenzo Lamas and John Rhys-Davies? At least we have more to make fun of, and Kilmer and Gooding jr. can be Kilmer and Gooding jr. somewhere more respectable.

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This is the first of probably many Cuba Gooding jr. films that we'll have here, because he's amassed quite a DTV oeuvre over the past few years. Oh, what fun we'll have, you and me. You the Oscar winner, and me the guy who's about to review American Ninja 2-- for the second time! Of course, I make fun of you for this, but Hardwired was better than Pearl Harbor, Radio, and Men of Honor, just to name three. Maybe you're making out better in this deal. We'll keep in touch.

This is the second Val Kilmer film we've done this week, and let me tell you, though Columbus Day was about as good of a movie as Hardwired, Kilmer's part was way worse in this one. The biggest offender was the hair. When you see the cover in stores or on Netflix, you'll see a Kilmer with a slick cut, low and tight. Not so in the actual film. He looks like either a reject from a failed 80s New Wave band, or one of the crew members on the warehouse ship in Space Mutiny. The only explanation was that he didn't want us to recognize him in this film. No such luck. Hey, didn't you used to act in Oliver Stone movies?

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I hate commercials. More than anything, I hate the lowest common denominator view they have of the world. Take the MasterCard Priceless thing. Their main goal was to create a catch phrase that seeped into popular culture, and once people bit and started using the phrase on signs at sporting events so they could look clever and get on TV, we were stuck with that smug voice telling us "...Priceless...". Their whole raison d'etre is to stick their product into our brains in whatever way imaginable, and pat themselves on the back for it afterwards. That makes this movie all the more pointless, because no company would consent to something like this, when they can do it much cheaper the old fashioned way. Or, they could just agree to have their logo plastered all over a movie, like they did here.

I want to say you shouldn't watch this, that you're just in for some pain, but after my whole review, I have a different take. Hardwired is a unique opportunity to see how the mighty have fallen. Look at Kilmer's hair and Gooding jr.'s scowl, and not only laugh, but know that we all are only a couple Radios, Daddy Daycares, Island of Dr. Moreaus, and The Saints away from the same fate. If there's any cautionary tale in this film, it's that one. Also of note, the end sets us up for a sequel with who else as the owner of Hope Industries: Lance Henriksen.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1405412/

3 comments:

  1. Took a chance on this at the Redbox last night; I too loved Kilmer's bad Flock of Seagulls haircut and his "fly on the wall" "don't let anyone recognize me" mentality here. Also, the "anime" hackers with the 5th Element hair were a funny touch too. I liked it; even bought two spicy chicken sandwiches after- thanks Hoover Dam.

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  2. Yeah, this was one of those where I got too bogged down in how smart they thought they were, instead of enjoying how dumb they ended up being. What was great about New World Disorder was how that was made in 1999, and ten years later, hackers haven't changed in appearance.

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  3. yeah, it's like these DTV filmmakers catch a late night tv screening of Ghost in the Shell, throw in some Johnny Mnemonic and Hackers and think that makes profound (or even halfway good) cyber punk. I dunno; I probably enjoyed this slightly more than I should've: you knew (from watching the making of) that they thought they were being "deep," but it fell flat. Still, this is one of those films I enjoy lots more than I rationally know I should (like 'Alphabet Killer' or 'Untraceable') for its quirks more than anything else.

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