‘AGGR0 DR1FT’ review: Harmony Korine’s latest is a blood-soaked, psychedelic assassin tale


“Some people, they wanna do the right thing. I like doing the wrong thing.”

In 2012, James Franco spoke those words as Alien, an eccentric Florida drug dealer invented by the bizarre mind of transgressive filmmaker Harmony Korine for his film Spring Breakers. In a lot of ways, this character and his brutal ways was, unbeknownst to most, a harbinger of things to come for the creator best known for his work on the provocative and daring 1995 film Kids — and what was to come would be AGGR0 DR1FT, a sweaty and psychedelic assassin tale shot entirely on a thermal camera. 

What is AGGR0 DR1FT about?

A spiritual successor to Spring Breakers, Korine’s first film since 2019’s The Beach Bum revisits Florida in an even more violent and terror-stricken way as it follows the self-proclaimed world’s greatest assassin, Bo (played by the once-dubbed “Spanish Tom Cruise” Jordi Mollà). He’s on a quest to kill the biggest villain in Miami, a hulking and misogynistic man who calls himself a “devil”. He’s proud of his work, telling viewers about his wins in the field in an almost sultry tone. The dialogue, which was improvised based on “ideas, a basic story, and pictures” the director had drawn before shooting, immediately makes you feel thrust back into the greater Harmony Korine universe, and it supports the bombastic visual choices. 

What are the visuals like in AGGR0 DR1FT?

Let’s be real, Korine’s filmography has been building to something akin to the beloved video game franchise, Grand Theft Auto. With his seventh film, he finally presents his version of that kind of urban chaos. In the world of AGGR0 DR1FT, guns and huge asses reign supreme, and characters move through the city like playable protagonists, almost lagging in their movements as they go. Further still, the film’s pacing feels like real-time gaming footage, as if you’re steering your character through a pulsating pixelated city of devils — and it’s something even further amplified through the director’s sole use of thermal imaging infrared cameras.

Palpitating point-of-view shots highlight heat and movement, effectively rendering Bo’s world an amalgamation of reds, yellows, blues, and greens through which faces fade into a sick brightness, one that almost transforms characters into a different species entirely. Korine wields a whole host of additional visual production tactics to create this overwhelming aesthetic, including live action, gaming engines, 3D rendering, VFX, and artificial intelligence — according to the film’s VFX designer, Joao Rosa, the film uses an allegedly “ethical” version of AI that was trained on internal artwork created for the film, but that’s all the info we have on that.

The best usage of Korine’s visual toolkit comes in the form of a demon guardian angel of sorts, a malevolent horned creature that follows Bo throughout the city as he commits his crimes. It’s clearly the result of a conglomerate of these artificial tools, but it’s nevertheless effective as an aesthetic choice — the demon is pretty badass to look at, not gonna lie — as well as a metaphorical one. Bo, who is a father and a husband on top of being a cold-blooded killer, is forever running from his demons, while also using them as a deadly asset. 

AGGR0 DR1FT’s sound design is a besiegement to the ears.

Speaking of deadly assets, it’s pretty clear that the sound design of AGGR0 DR1FT is meant as a further sensory pummelling. At the Venice Film Festival press screening, the sound was cranked up so high that many attendees plugged their ears, and some even left after a period because of the noise. Between piercing sound effects like a shrill eagle’s cry, and the brooding yet bombastic score by producer AraabMuzik — which would honestly be amazing on a run, for nailing the final boss in your favorite video game, or whenever you need to feel like you’re powerful enough to punch your worst enemy — the audio aspects of Korine’s feature seem designed to aggravate, stimulate, and enrage.

Travis Scott is an unexpected highlight of AGGR0 DR1FT.

When it comes to the acting in this piece, Mollà is certainly the anchor in the neon lunacy of this tale. His performance is calculated, constrained, and somewhat muted, but weirdly, he intrigues enough to make you want to follow his story to the end.

However, rapper Travis Scott, in his feature film debut, gives some of the most natural-sounding dialogue of anyone in the film, even more so than Mollà at times. With roughly five minutes of screen time, his character Zion frankly discusses killing, familial responsibilities, and the Bible (of which he wonders aloud, “Did Julius Caesar write the Bible?” which sounds contrived, but it’s a smart parallel to how many great figures are scorned by the company they keep). 

Alien’s aforementioned Spring Breakers quote about doing the wrong thing — and liking it — is the bedrock of Bo’s identity in AGGR0 DR1FT. There’s something about this taboo that’s fun to watch as he navigates this sense of lawlessness. However, Korine’s latest film is definitely not for everyone; in fact, there’s likely to be a lot of hatred for this movie, that much is nearly certain. But if you want a mindless mind-trip filled with nauseating color, fast cars, loud guns, and a whole lot of twerking, AGGR0 DR1FT might just be your cup of deadly tea — especially if you’re willing to bend to its transgressive rules. 

AGGR0 DR1FT opens in theaters May 10.

UPDATE: May. 9, 2024, 1:11 p.m. EDT “AGGR0 DR1FT” was reviewed out of the Venice International Film Festival.

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