They stole his past, now he's taking back his future.
Back of DVD:
After losing his wife in a horrific car accident, Luke Gibson (Academy Award Winner Cuba Gooding, Jr., Best actor in a supporting role for Jerry Maguire, 1996) wakes up in the hospital to find his once idyllic life on the brink of destruction. Implanted with a lethal microchip and monitored closely by a Hope Industries executive (Val Kilmer), Gibson is plagued by strange visions and haunted by a past he cannot remember. If he wants to survive, his only chance lies with a group of renegade hackers who may be the only ones who know how to stop the dangerous corporation before it's too late. Also starring Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation).
The Matrix has influenced a lot of movies. Although it itself was influenced by everything from Wargames to Tron and probably even Dark City, The Matrix really pushed the whole 'cyber' culture down the masses throats in a big way. There was a failed attempt before that with The Lawnmower Man, but that was quickly forgotten (though it's a guilty favourite of mine). Hardwired is another movie that owes its existence to both of those movies. I think Gooding Jr. has been having some acting classes form the school of Keanu as well.
Luke (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and his wife get into their car and start driving away. Only seconds later their car is hit side on by a four wheel drive (figures) and his wife dies from sustained injuries. Luke is hospitalised and not expected to live. The Doctor sees that his medical insurance has expired and is about to send him to take his chances in the public waiting rooms, when a couple of black-suited guys turn the wall into a TV, through the magic of cyber-stuff or whatever. On the screen is second-in-charge of the massive corporation Hope Industries, Virgil (Val Kilmer). Virgil tells the doctor they will pick up the bill, in return for performing some experimental surgery on Luke that will save his life.
After a bit of dodgy CG animation of some sort of CPU being installed into his head, Luke wakes up in his hospital bed, with no memory of who he is. He sees a guy trying to sell him a watch and freaks out a bit. Honestly if you woke up in hospital and some dude tried to sell you a Rolex you'd probably do the same. His sister (Teyla from Stargate: Atlantis) says that no-one else was in the room and takes him home. She shows him around his house but nothing jogs his memory, though he is told he had a wife who died. Luke sees another strange illusion, this time a hot blonde selling whiskey. He freaked out more over this than he Rolex guy and runs out into the street where we see he is being watched by the black-suited guys.
More than the black-suited guys, Luke is being watched by a couple of cyber-punk type kids in a beat up old van. You can tell they are cyber-punk because they have red and blue hair and pasty white skin. They aren't called Neo or Trinity, but they aren't far from it. They are more like that Aussie kid who was in the soapie Home and Away who went on about what Tasty Wheat tasted like, and was also the digital pimp to the girl in the red dress. The real "cool" nerd types that say LOL instead of actually laughing.
The now totally freaked-out Luke tracks down the Doctor that operated on him and demands answers. The Doctor doesn't get much out before Luke is taken over by an extreme, ringing pain in the head; it turns out questioning the implant results in pain and can even blow your head up, like Scanners. Luke sees dozens of the guy selling Rolexes and loses his shit so bad he smashes the window to a shop and steals one. A security guard tries to stop him, but (and this is when it gets weirder), Luke starts seeing giant text messages in the sky: "Safety's On. We won't let you die." Luke understood the 'safetys on' part and runs from the security guard, who tries to fire but can't (because... the safety's on). These cyber-geeks have hacked into the chip in Lukes head and sent him message overlays and directions to their car. After the awkward introductions, he is taken to see Michael Ironside (I always get a kick out of seeing him in movies. It's like seeing Lance Henriksen. By the way, keep a close watch on the final shots of this film.). Ironside and his disabled son "Keyboard" (See! Cyber-geeks) get all Blue pill/Red pill on Luke and explain what has happened to him and how they need his help to take down Hope Industries. Luke and the geek patrol proceed to find the key players in the brain-chipping game and deal with them, usually violently.
Hardwired is entertaining but, frankly, a bit crap. I will re-emphasise that I was entertained throughout, but there are many issues in this, the first being Gooding Jr's Keanu style wooden acting. When he tries to emote, he fails. He always looks like someone has slapped him in the face with a trout, which I suppose is fair enough when you keep getting harassed by Rolex salesmen. The whole "corporations run the world" thing has been done to death, though I did like the opening montage of well known company logos rendered on famous buildings and locations; the Windows logo at Stone Henge, the Statue of Liberty projecting a spinning Playboy bunny logo, the McDonalds logo emblazoned on the wall of the Hoover Dam.
Gooding Jr. I don't know too much about. I don't think I've seen many or any of his bigger movies. Like I said before, he's pretty wooden but he does get to kick a few arses. There's a nice roundhouse kick early on, and he shoots a few guys. He holds his gun like Seagal which was pretty amusing. Gooding has done a whole stack of DTV movies in recent years. I'll check out a few more in the future.
I have to give special mention to the best actor in this movie, Val Kilmers hair. Don't go looking at the cover up the top, I have no idea what was going on in that photo because it NEVER happens in the movie. It looks like it was taken ten years prior. Val Kilmer has an awesome blond hairpiece that combined with his nanna glasses (complete with chain) and his inability to drink a glass of water without looking ridiculous make for spectacular entertainment on its own. Kilmer himself never leaves his office building and is filmed against green-screen most of the time. Actually he reminds me a lot of a long haired Lumbergh from Office Space. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to see what I mean.
Hardwired isn't really that bad, it's just pretty stupid. I didn't look at the clock once so that's a good thing. It's quite pretty and the Hollywood OS makes plenty of appearances, along with much stock bleeping and blooping. At least no-one says "I've hacked into the mainframe" or "It's a UNIX system! I know this!". So, no space hovercrafts, Sentinel robots or Oracles but plenty of geeks with handles for names and computers with fifty screens like the one from Swordfish (hey, another bad hackers movie) but still worth watching. I could probably stand to watch it again even. Just don't expect anything new. Hey, it's DTV - why would you want to expect that anyway?
The video is excellent overall, but this is a new release, reasonably budgeted (for DTV) movie so you would expect it. The picture is very sharp and the colours vibrant, particularly all the computery whatsits. Sound clear as a whistle and quite dynamic. Reviewed the dual-layer R4 disc in 16:9 widescreen. Runtime 94 minutes.
Big W for $8.94