It’s necessary to approach a picture like Harmony Korine’s Aggro Dr1ft on its own terms. There is a strong likelihood that many people will notice it, become irritated with what he is doing, and then reject it without hesitation. While his films were never for everyone, they are nonetheless worth considering as a continuation of his interest in American decadence.
It’s unfortunate, though, that this is his most dull picture to date in which he explores such themes. It should be mentioned that Korine has constantly stated his dissatisfaction with traditional filmmaking and has removed himself from even referring to this as a film.
So, if we take him at his word for what he appears to be attempting, the biggest issue is whether Aggro Dr1ft is the sort of work that successfully carves out a new type of visual narrative. Let’s take Korine’s desire to forge a new route seriously and see where he takes us. After all, there have been many brilliant films that have established their own cinematic grammar. Aggro Dr1ft is not among them.
For what it’s worth, the plot revolves around the experiences of a disturbed assassin named BO (Jordi Mollà), who longs to be a family guy, as he repeatedly tells us in various rambling monologues. He must complete one final task before he may enjoy the life he’s always desired, appearing to toy with story clichés. The target is a devil of a man who spends most of the film humping the air and cruelly commanding his patch of this Florida hellscape.
There are obvious components that are reminiscent of Korine’s Spring Breakers, which are then altered and made more slippery. Although there are knife battles, the occasional gunfight, and a final confrontation, this is hardly an action flick.
Instead, it is a slower musing in which BO wanders across the world and delivers mental meditations on violence. One of the most important actual talks he has is on a boat with Travis Scott’s snake-tongued fighter about treachery. Aside from that, characters typically repeat their lines like they’re NPCs in a video game. Korine has stated that this was his objective, however, the merging of two entertainment media never focuses on any of them.
Trying to take the picture seriously becomes more futile since it doesn’t take itself seriously. While there are lots of films that thrive on vibes, this lacks the visual splendour and emotional gravitas to do so. To continue on its own terms, the usage of infrared is intriguing, but it leaves everything feeling unfinished.
Expressions are washed out, locations appear to be absorbed by light, and nothing appears to be alive. While part of this is clearly intended to generate a sense of nightmare fear, the closer you look, the more empty everything seems. It’s not an issue if the vibes are awful since a difficult job would at least make you feel something.
Worse, being banal means that every scene feels like a snake devouring itself, engulfing any potentially interesting flourishes in its own mundanity. Korine’s provocation lacks lyricism, resulting in a picture that feels like it’s wandering around in the dark looking for something it never thought of becoming. If this was a test of how well this technology might leave an impression, it failed miserably.
The picture is occasionally humorous, but it never feels as though Korine is in on the joke. It appears to be the result of true creative stagnation and a genuine yearning to try something different. The problem is that this exploration is tedious rather than daring. What makes it an unappealing affair is its employment of the soul-sucking technology known as AI.
There is never a moment when it doesn’t look nasty, whether it’s Korine or the current Marvel series. This isn’t ugly in a sense that makes it memorable or expressive. Rather, it is done in a haphazard manner that merely feels empty as it all blends together. The more you think about it, the more you wonder what it is about it that excites Korine.
He refers to it as a tool, yet it appears that he has little control over how it moulds his film. There’s just a continuous unpredictability to everything that comes off as tepid rather than startling or transformational. The layers that cover the features of the characters not only look horrible, but they also remove us from them since all we can see is the manufactured rot at the heart of Korine’s vision.
The end consequence is a sense of disappointment rather than fury. Rather than leaving you with the impression that you’ve witnessed anything genuinely brave or original, it all feels derivative. It’s a film that’s too ordinary to get angry over. There are a few brief moments at the end where it juxtaposes declarations of love with horrible violence, but it is the only thing from the entire experience that comes close to possibly revealing in any manner.
Korine certainly intended to make this picture, and there is merit in pushing the medium into new areas. However, rather than feeling like a hopeful new horizon has been discovered in film, this is more of a fizzle than a find. If Korine wanted to make viewers as disillusioned with films as he was, this was the film to achieve it.