Sometime in the future where big corporations sponsor everything from Playboy sponsoring the Statue of Liberty to Pepsi sponsoring the moon, former soldier Luke Gibson (Cuba Gooding Jr. - Gifted Hands) is involved in a road accident which kills his pregnant partner. With severe head trauma and no medical insurance there isn't much the doctors can do until the mysterious Virgil (Val Kilmer - Felon) from the Hope corporation comes forward wishing to use their new technology on Luke to save him, a new technology which leads to a chip being planted in the back of his head. When Luke comes to he has no memory of who he was and keeps seeing strange people pop up in front of him appearing to try and sell him watches and whisky. Trying to discover who he is leads him to computer hacker Hal (Michael Ironside - Terminator Salvation) who open his eyes to what is really going on with these implants.
Two things which don't go together sci-fi and direct-to-video it is a combination which has frequently delivered some terrible movies. Fortunately "Hardwired" isn't one of them because of a decent cast and some clever ideas which leads me to a slight detour. A few months ago I read that companies wanted to use information they could get from your mobile phones so that when you passed a billboard the advertisement would be more personal to you. That is one of the amusing ideas kind of raised in "Hardwired" as Luke is confronted by these advertisements which appear from nowhere.
Anyway back to the movie itself well it's a case of a mix of a man trying to uncover what happened to him whilst dealing with an evil corporation which thanks to the chip in his brain controls them. And that mix along with the fact we are talking low budget direct-to-video ends up making "Hardwired" feel derivative with ideas which you feel have seen in other movies. For fans of sci-fi it will probably end up feeling desperately unoriginal and unfinished but for the casual fan of sci-fi movies it will entertain.
The thing about "Hardwired" is that despite being low budget it has a few things going for it including some cheap yet effective special effects. But most importantly it has Cuba Gooding Jr. who unlike many actors who find themselves working in the direct-to-video arena gives it a go, doing a professional job of trying to deliver a character rather than just walking through the movie. The same with Michael Ironside who we all know often plays a bad guy but here gets to be a good guy which in itself makes for an interesting twist. As for the other big name star Val Kilmer, unfortunately you spend pretty much the entire movie distracted by the shaggy mop of hair on his head.
What this all boils down to is that "Hardwired" is a low budget, direct-to-video sci-fi movie which probably wont entertain a sci-fi buff but will entertain those just looking for some fun futuristic action.