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BO from AGGRO DR1FT stands in a ski mask and armor with a gun in his hand Image: EDGLRD

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AGGRO DR1FT is what would happen if 2009 Xbox Live voice chat made a movie

Harmony Korine and Travis Scott’s new movie is a very interesting mess

Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

It’s rare to see a movie that challenges basic ideas about how films are made or what they should look like. It’s even rarer to see a movie in that mode that’s actually enjoyable. AGGRO DR1FT, the new movie from Spring Breakers and The Beach Bum director Harmony Korine, made in collaboration with rapper and music producer Travis Scott, certainly doesn’t look like any kind of conventional movie, but it also isn’t an exception to the rule. It’s strange and mostly eventless — some viewers will probably jump ship on after five minutes or less. But it’s also utterly fascinating in the rare moments when it’s actually coherent.

AGGRO DR1FT follows BO (Jordi Mollà), a middle-aged man who loves his wife and children deeply. He’s also the world’s greatest assassin. He tells the audience both of these things directly, via omnipresent voice-over narration. The majority of the movie has BO wandering aimlessly around Florida from one meeting to the next. The encounters are only linked by his narration, which seems related to the plot only about half of the time. The plot, such as it exists, is about BO’s attempt to assassinate The Beast, a demonic villain with giant wings who has two katanas and hangs out with scantily clad women who he sometimes keeps in cages.

It isn’t really clear what The Beast did to earn the contract put on his head, but at one point, he stands between two women in bikinis and chants, “Dance, bitch. Dance, bitch” over and over again until the scene finally cuts and BO’s narration says, “There’s magic in this brutality.” I can’t say what that means for sure, but I can say that Korine seems to believe it’s true, and also that it’s exactly in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie. More than once we see several uninterrupted seconds of The Beast pelvic thrusting while holding his sword and yelling, only for BO to cut in with narration telling us how terrifying The Beats is.

The Beast, in his demon mask, from AGGRO DR1FT Image: EDGLRD

BO rolls around southern Florida buying sniper rifles, telling the audience to be careful of strippers because if you stare into their eyes for too long, you’ll lose your soul, and meeting with other assassins, including Travis Scott’s character, Zion, who BO seems to take under his wing. But after every brief trip, BO always returns to his home base, where his wife has been waiting in bed for him, while her voice over talks about how much she misses him and wants to have sex with him.

What makes all this fascinating, though, is AGGRO DR1FT is accidentally a more insightful look at an incel’s fantasies than most of the movies that actually attempt to portray incel life.

BO is a bit of a schlub, but he has a cool, sexy job, a cool, sexy wife, and a family he loves very much, and would do anything to protect. He also sees evil everywhere in a cruel and horrible world. It just happens to look like a demon in a mask, holding samurai swords. His wife is perfect and must be protected, but strippers are evil sirens who exist to steal men’s souls.

All this performative hyper-masculinity feels like it’s been filtered through the lens of a 14-year-old boy screaming on Xbox Live over a game of Modern Warfare 2. Evil is something you vanquish with a special sniper rifle, and women are made to be protected, not spoken to. The movie doesn’t create a coherent ideology, but it’s clear BO’s worldview is inherently self-righteous, and the world of the movie contorts itself around justifying him.

What’s unique about AGGRO DR1FT is seeing all of this presented so brazenly, and without the defense of irony or sarcasm to dress it up. Like most of the movie, though, it’s fascinating to think about, but an absolute slog to actually watch.

The most uncomplicatedly interesting thing about AGGRO DR1FT, though, is the way it looks: Shot entirely with an infrared camera, with morphing neon colors that are often inverted, moving characters from bright featureless red to bright featureless blue, the movie looks unique. These aren’t entirely successful choices — the movie often just looks like an ugly mess of colors. But it’s a style that a different, more carefully conceived and directed movie could use well. The blocky neon vagueness of the bright colors often used in infrared photography also grants space to the movie’s best and most interesting feature: shifting illustrations that show up inside of the colors.

Travis Scott as his character Zion in AGGRO DR1FT standing on a boat Image: EDGLRD

When a character or space (like the sky, for instance) slips all the way into a deep red hue, ink-like illustrations start to appear inside of the color, creating demonic heads, intricate machine parts, or presumably any other design Scott or Korine thought looked neat. These moments sometimes mean things, like when a massive demon-monster appears as BO commits a particularly nasty bit of violence, which seems to reflect his own self-image. Though these illustrations pop up constantly throughout the movie, especially in the second half, they feel criminally underthought, and like a disappointing waste of a great stylistic choice.

Reading all this, it might be tempting assume that, in spite of its flaws, AGGRO DR1FT is at least entertaining or exciting. I cannot stress enough that it is not. For all the movie’s talk about demons and assassinations, most of the movie’s nearly 90-minute runtime is taken up by characters driving from place to place, awkwardly standing around, or walking around southern Florida.

Writing a review of AGGRO DR1FT is already letting Korine win. It’s defiantly non-traditional and deliberately provocative. I can’t say that the movie really made me mad, but I can say I’m happy to let Harmony Korine win. He’s earned it; AGGRO DR1FT is an obtuse, ridiculous, headache-inducing movie to watch. It’s nearly impossible to tell whether any moment of the movie is entirely a joke or entirely sincere — it’s called AGGRO DR1FT, for God’s sake. It’s a meaningless phrase, rendered in all capital letters with a 1 standing in for an I; for all we know, it might as well be Travis Scott’s Gamertag. But the movie is more than that too. It’s as clear a depiction of a certain kind of distinctly male-coded interior life as I’ve ever seen, and there is value to making that in such a weirdly unfiltered way. AGGRO DR1FT isn’t an enjoyable or particularly well-made movie, but it is the movie I’ve thought about most this year. For better or worse, that’s worth something.

AGGRO DR1FT screened at the New York and Toronto film festivals, but does not currently have a date for wide release.