The movie "Hardware" follows the life of a scrap metal collector. Dylan McDermott plays Moses Baxter, a soldier living and working in a post-apocalyptic world. Radiation runs rampant in this world, causing many problems with health and population growth. Tall buildings are run down and mere shadows of their former glory. Iggy Pop acts as radio star Angry Bob and tells everyone who will listen of the numerous problems in the world.
While talking with a friendly junk dealer, Moses purchases a metal skull, hand, and other pieces of trash from a mysterious nomad that wanders the deserts. He sells the hand and gives the metal skull to his girlfriend, Jill. She is a sculptor and makes large creations from scrap junk and other discarded items. The skull turns out to be more than just another hunk of metal. Research done by the junk dealer, played by Mark Northover, reveals most of the scrap metal pieces are components of a military robot from a canceled program.
After Jill, Stacey Travis, installs the metallic head into her sculpture it begins to repair and rebuild itself from tools and pieces in the workshop. It attaches pieces for its multiple appendages and deadly weapons. The newly regenerated robot begins to wreak havoc in the building. The noise and damage causes visits from neighbors and building security. The visitors include a voyeuristic neighbor, played by William Hootkins, that watches Jill through her bedroom window.
Alvy, the junk dealer, discovers the parts are from a Mark 13 military robot and calls Moses to inform him of the results of his research. Alvy is then attacked by the activated hand and killed before Moses can arrive to help. Moses realizes what the skull is and must rush to save Jill from its attacks. He enlists the help of his good friend Shades, otherwise known as actor John Lynch. Jill struggles with the aggressive robot until help can arrive. Despite the robot's infrared vision Jill is able to hide from it for a short time. Moses, Shades, Jill, and building security officers all fight the metallic menace and the computer systems that have been corrupted.
Before he was attacked, Alvy had discovered the reason the Mark 13 project had been closed down by the government. It had one major weakness that made it vulnerable in most environments. Jill is ultimately able to exploit this weakness and defeat the robot.