Hardware (1990)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - Mar 14, 1990 (USA)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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A nightmarish, post-apocalyptic voyage into man's deepest-rooted natural and technological fears, director Richard Stanley's bid for stateside success resulted in a jarringly disturbing film unfairly dismissed at the time as a rip-off of James Cameron's better-known and similarly themed The Terminator (1984). While those comparisons aren't entirely unfounded given the subject matter, Stanley seems to have been going for something entirely different here. Nowhere is this more evident than in the inclusion of one particular element that Cameron's sci-fi classic neglected to adequately address, nature. While the characters in The Terminator were attempting a last ditch plea to save humankind from extinction solely at the hands of machines, Stanley establishes early on that the human race has already marked their days due to their callous treatment of the Earth itself; technology and killer robots only serve to compound this fact. Stanley's argument regarding nature and technology seems to be that once mankind has destroyed their world and stripped it of its natural resources, they will have no place to escape to once a more adaptive life form rises. In addition to the external factors which threaten man (or, in this case, woman), Stanley also makes a strong case that as a result of such natural horrors, the human race would suffer internally as well. From the sexual predator that the heroine must evade to the fact that cannabis has been legalized so that humans can have momentarily escape from their moribund existence, it's obvious that humankind's rape of the Earth has had significant negative impact on their mental well-being. Frequently disturbing and unsettling in its unflinching, beautifully horrific view of a race on the brink of extinction due to its own reckless excess, Hardware may not have broken any new ground in terms of originality, though the stylized manner in which it's told and its harsh sense of desperation truly set it apart from the pack as an effective and horrific view of what may be in store for humankind if we don't pause to reconsider the effects of our actions on future generations.