The Spool / Movies
AGGRO DR1FT forgoes both style and substance with purpose
Harmony Korine’s AI-riddled experiment is a garish, numbing jaunt that manages to stimulate against all odds.
SimilarConspiracy Theory (1997), From Russia with Love (1963), Hitman (2007), Léon: The Professional (1994), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), You Only Live Twice (1967),
Watch afterAvatar: The Way of Water (2022), Dune (2021), Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023), Napoleon (2023), Oppenheimer (2023) Parasite (2019),
MPAA RatingNR
7.3
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Perhaps it’s best to talk about AGGRO DR1FT by specifying something: this isn’t a movie. It sometimes doesn’t even feel like art. Harmony Korine’s latest premiered at the Venice Film Festival to a mixed reception and has gone on to a limited theatrical run, but that doesn’t make it a film.

Stretches of it feature AI-generated visuals, the dialogue is barely present enough to be asinine, and there’s no true emotion behind its infrared photography. Some parts of it even look bad—like utter garbage, really. As for its 80-minute runtime? Well, even that has some boring pockets. And yet, despite all this, it works, perhaps because of it rather than against it. Whether about what’s onscreen or not, it makes the audience think. In that way, it’s incredibly stimulating, particularly given the material involved.

Korine’s work here follows BO (Jordi Mollà), a depressive Miami assassin whose voiceovers wax on about how much he loves his wife and two kids. “I close my eyes. They give me purpose,” he moans. Put this up against an angel-winged baddie who thrusts his pelvis and grunts, “Dance, bitches,” to women locked in go-go cages, and that’s about as deep as anything gets. One is good. One is bad, and maybe a drug lord or whatever. The former is trying to execute the latter. Again, this isn’t a movie. It’s an approximation of one, and any themes that arise during the experience of seeing it are unrelated to what it follows.

It feels almost ludicrous to call AGGRO DR1FT engaging, but that comes from its context, not content. For one, Korine and cinematographer Arnaud Potier shoot the entire project in infrared. It’s an admittedly broad choice, but it’s also effective in signaling how to view the work. By reducing the aesthetics to measures of heat from a distance, the technology compresses all human emotions to ones and zeroes. As for the dialogue? Well, that feels like the misogynistic ramblings of a 12-year-old boy on Xbox Live mixed in with some placeholder words. Anything spoken is pretense or filler.

The most garish aspects, though, are AI-generated visuals that seemingly appear at random. Many look like steampunk technology inside characters’ bodies, some like old Snapchat filters. They’re all so ugly, so aesthetically bankrupt and artless to a depressing level, that they could only function in a context like this. Everything onscreen is just ones and zeroes, right? Such is the case here; there’s no texture, just resemblances of it that viewers must strain to perceive as real. But even while taking the shape of a film, AGGRO DR1FT doesn’t offend or pander. It’s too passive, and that’s largely for the better.

Because while AGGRO DR1FT drags over its meager runtime, it somehow welcomes its audience. It welcomes them to think—about what works, what doesn’t, why it’s so ugly at times, and how it could have been better. Korine’s work is engaging in the fundamental sense of the word. Some of the syntax is sure to elicit comparisons to video games, but that would be a disrespect to their art. The few moments of dialogue recall dubbed conversations of the ‘80s and ‘90s SOV films Korine already harkened back to with Trash Humpers. But AGGRO DR1FT lacks the personality of such underground cult objects.

No, it isn’t a grand deconstruction of semiotics. It is, however, something about what is or isn’t art, and it works in that regard. Whether or not it’s “good” is another discussion altogether.

AGGRO DR1FT will screen at independent theaters across nearly 20 key locations nationwide.

AGGRO DR1FT Trailer:

SimilarConspiracy Theory (1997), From Russia with Love (1963), Hitman (2007), Léon: The Professional (1994), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), You Only Live Twice (1967),
Watch afterAvatar: The Way of Water (2022), Dune (2021), Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (2023), Napoleon (2023), Oppenheimer (2023) Parasite (2019),
MPAA RatingNR