Hardware is a British Sci-Fi Horror movie directed by Richard Stanley. In a post-apocalyptic desert, a wandering scavenger finds a dismembered robot buried in the sand, and takes the pieces back to the City to sell to Alvy, a scrap dealer. Also visiting the dealer are Moses "Hard Mo" Baxter and his Sidekick Shades. Mo is a (slightly) more professional scavenger; Shades...wears shades.Mo buys the most of the robot bits as a Christmas present for his girlfriend Jill who is a sculptor.
Jill lives in a tightly controlled apartment block in the dangerous inner City, and has been having trouble with a prowler, but is persuaded to let Mo in and he gives her the bag full of robot. Alvy, meanwhile, has been examining the remaining robot parts more closely and has made an alarming discovery. The robot is actually a M.A.R.K. 13 cyborg, a lethal prototype killing machine capable of rebuilding itself if damaged. He contacts Mo, and in a truly outstanding example of Plot-Induced Stupidity persuades Mo to come to the scrap yard - leaving Jill at home with the M.A.R.K. 13.
The robot accordingly rebuilds itself, using household appliances and sculpting tools to replace missing parts, and runs amuck. The bits left with Alvy also come to life, and Alvy is killed by lethal injection from a disembodied crawling claw. Mo, having found Alvy dead and realised the danger, rushes back to rescue Jill. Then things get seriously weird.
Shot on a very low budget, Hardware has become a definite Cult Classic, at least in the U.K. The story was based on "Shok!", a short comic strip set in the Judge Dredd universenote , and the setting is generally acknowledged to be a far better depiction of a Mega-City than that seen in the 1995 film.
No examples shall be spared:
- Artificial Limbs: Subverted- Mo has an artificial hand, but no reference is made to it and it doesn't give him super strength.
- Artistic License Religion: There is no verse in Mark 13 reading "No flesh shall be spared." There is, however, a similar verse at Mark 13:20, "There should no flesh be saved."
- Batter Up!: Jill arms herself with a baseball bat near the end.
- Big Damn Heroes: Played straight once then subverted later.
- Cassandra Truth: Lincoln is too obsessed about Jill to care about her warnings of the killer robot inside her apartment.
- Chainsaw Good: One of Mark 13's limbs has a circular saw attached to it. It also grabs an actual chainsaw by the end of the movie.
- City of Canals: The factory district of Mega City One, where the water is hot due to the desert heat and polluted by garbage, industrial run-off and radiation.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Shades has traits of this.
- Contrived Coincidence: Arguably, see Famous Last Words/ Final Speech.
- Cool, but Inefficient: The M.A.R.K. 13 can inject victims with a toxin which makes them hallucinate before dying; why this is more efficient than just killing them outright is never adequately explained.
- Justified in that The M.A.R.K. 13 was never meant to be a battlefield weapon. It's quite clearly stated in the film that the M.A.R.K. 13 was designed and built to be an instrument of terror to be unleashed against the civilian population in order to hunt down and kill anyone who violated the Emergency Population Control Bill. The strange and disturbing manner in which the M.A.R.K. 13 kills is meant to send a message to the people. "If you violate the Population Control Bill, this will happen to you next."
- Crapsack World: The City is basically Mega City One but without the Judges.Angry Bob: Rise and shine folks, it's a beautiful day! Just look at that sky, it's a work of art. Nature never knew colors like that. The radiation count is WAY up, and the heatwave ain't expected to let up either. Weather control tells us it will probably hit 110 before nightfall. As for the good news - There is NO fucking good news!
- Cyberpunk Is Techno: The film's score plays this trope as straight as you can possibly get.
- Death by Adaptation: Mo is definitively killed about 3/4ths of the way through the film, while the comic merely ends with his counterpart in a situation in which he has a good chance of being killed.
- Determinator: M.A.R.K. 13. Even when reduced to nothing more than a head or shot through of holes, it absolutely won't stop in its mission of killing humans.
- Downer Ending: The in-universe radio broadcast at the end of the movie says that the government is going to mass produce the M.A.R.K 13's, and they've also fixed their defects (more efficient programming and no longer disabled by water).
- Expo Speak: Mostly averted but there are a couple of particularly jarring examples.
- Eye Scream: M.A.R.K. 13 pokes Lincoln's eyes out when it's killing him.
- Famous Last Words/ Final Speech: An interesting variant. While Mo is dying from the M.A.R.K 13's neurotoxin he talks about the M.A.R.K 13's water weakness, which Jill accesses from the M.A.R.K 13's databanks when hacking it while it recharges. Arguably justified, as he may have said it due to the mind-altering and hallucinogenic properties of the neurotoxin.
- Hallucinations: Side-effect from M.A.R.K. 13's neurotoxins.
- Harassing Phone Call: Lincoln makes these to Jill.
- It Can Think: Heavily implied with the M.A.R.K. 13. It comes up with two cruel yet creative ambushes/traps, exhibits sadistic tendencies and seems surprised that water disables it.
- Karmic Death: While dying due to water damage shorting out its systems, the M.A.R.K.13 seems to experience similar vivid religious hallucinations to the ones Mo was having when he was dying from its hallucinogenic poison.
- Made of Iron: M.A.R.K. 13 gets up after repeated gunshots, even a point-blank shotgun blast to the head. The shots eventually damage and help destroy it after the water damages its wiring.
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: M.A.R.K. 13.
- Mutants: Averted, exposure to radiation has caused stunted growth and deformities but no cool powers.
- Not Quite Dead: Mo and the building's security guards show up to save Jill and blow away the M.A.R.K. 13 only halfway through the film. The fact this happens so relatively early lets you know the M.A.R.K. 13 isn't as dead as it seems.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: Heard when Lincoln is stalking Jill with his infrared camera.
- Plot-Induced Stupidity: Although Alvy's reluctance to talk over the phone is understandable he could surely have told Mo to bring Jill with him, or take her somewhere else.
- Alvy did tell Mo to bring the M.A.R.K. 13 with him, though he could've suggested taking Jill when Mo objected. Upon finding Alvy's corpse and information on how deadly the M.A.R.K. 13 was he got help and headed back to rescue Jill.
- Population Control: The dystopian variety. There are laws prohibiting the number of children allowed due to deformities brought on by the radiation and limited resources while sterilization treatments are encouraged. The government then produced the M.A.R.K. 13 robots to kill the excess population/ terrify the remaining people into obeying population control laws.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Director Richard Stanley was inspired by apartheid regime of South Africa where he had grown up, and thus emphasized the themes of fascism and passive acceptance of authoritarianism.
- Scavenger World: Not quite, but it is implied to be going that way
- Self-Constructed Being: The MARK 13.
- Shout-Out: To Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas:Shades: "My heart...it feels like an alligator."
- Spared by the Adaptation: Jill definitively triumphs over the M.A.R.K. 13 in the film, whereas in the ending of the comic it's strongly implied that her counterpart was Killed Offscreen by the S.H.O.K. trooper (who then steals her hair as a disguise to ambush her boyfriend) after seemingly defeating it.
- Stalker with a Crush: Lincoln, who lives in a building next to Jill's apartment, and spies on her.
- Suck Out the Poison: Attempted by Mo on himself. It doesn't work.
- Sunglasses at Night: Shades never takes off his sunglasses.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The M.A.R.K.13 can be disabled by water.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Jill paints the M.A.R.K.13's head with an American flag as an ironic statement, back when she intended it as a piece of art and not a murderous killbot. Happily, it makes a pretty ironic statement as a murderous killbot, too.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The setting was originally more explicitly British, but Miramax insisted on casting American leads. Stanley deliberately cast a multi-national cast to muddy the setting and keep it ambiguous.
- Who Needs Their Whole Body?: The M.A.R.K.13 manages to rebuild itself a new body despite only being a head and some interface cables. Ever so, said body is mostly just a really big upper torso, with some unspecific means of locomotion which is never really clearly shown.
- World War III: The story either happens at the tail end of this or sometime afterward with a more minor conflict still going on.