by Iain Souter
I find Luv a truly tragic character. While I grieve for Joe, at the movie’s end, my heart breaks for Luv. She is Ariel and Caliban, both, to Wallace’s perversion of Prospero. A truly tortured being, a demigod child raised by a parent who is emotionally abusive to the Nth degree, fracturing her psyche and creating a monster. The glimpses of her vulnerability and inner torment - the eye twitch and the lone tear - are utterly convincing. In a thirty year career, I specialised as a detective in cases involving physical and sexual abuse, and of children, in particular. I always think of a seven year old boy, who had been raped by another boy - a teenager - who spoke quietly to me, in a monotone, which didn’t alter in pitch or intensity once, as he described exactly what was done to him. His face was frozen as his voice, emotionless and still, except for the tears, which fell constantly from his eyes, for over thirty minutes. He was entirely unaware of the fact that he was even crying, his emotional trauma was so great.
That is why I find her such a terribly sad character. When Joe kills her at the end, it’s an act of mercy, of release. The way he gently strokes her cheek, after releasing her throat, tells me that he knew this also.
It also resonates with me that Wallace calls her the best of all his “angels”. I had a very Catholic upbringing. Catechism, mass, communion, confession and more catechism, on a daily basis, even before the school began (the school was affixed to the church, and more than half our teachers were jesuits and nuns). It was always instilled in me that biblically speaking, angels are not the fluffy guardians who shield us from all harm, if we have the right colour crystals and our chakras are in harmony with their “true names”. They were the messengers of God, and as such, they were truly terrible, both in aspect and character. When these swords of god were sent, plagues swept the land, or else nations fell, firstborns died, cities were blasted to ashes and even the faithful were turned to salt for disobeying a single command. They swept the world of life, for their God, bringing the rains. They are said to be the ones who shall unleash the end of all things, breaking the seals that unleash the Beast. They are not merciful beings. They have no souls - that gift was given to Man, and Man alone. This is from a Biblical point of view, of course, not a personal one.
So when Wallace speaks of his angels, and of Luv being the best of them all, and when she is clearly such a destructive and tremendously damaged character, wreaking death in the very heart of the police station, not once but twice? Yes, I’d agree with Wallace. HIS creations ARE meant to be angels. Swords of God, perfect in every way that he wishes them to be. Soulless, devoid of conscience, bred to obey him utterly and to bring him the stars and all the worlds beyond - and, I believe, somewhere along the way, help fulfil his yearning for godhood and possibly even immortality, through them.
Luv is all that, and more; the distillation of the same savagery, which drove Batty in a killing spree through the the colonies, across the galaxy, and back to his flawed manipulative creator. While Joe represents the light side of Batty, which evolved from his feelings - his love - for Pris and his fellows, Luv is that darker side. While she echoes Rachael in appearance and playfully silken tones, she is Wallace’s sword, through and through, striking down any and all who get in the way of the quest to unlock the puzzle that maddens her creator and holds him back. He might as well be the hand striking Coco, or wielding the blade that ends Joshi and, ultimately, Joe. She is his creature, more effectively collared than any dog - regardless of how her childish ego has to demean and diminish this male competitor to her title. This is why she lets him live, in Vegas, I believe. Because he has been brought to heel by someone fit to be his mistress - a better, matchless perfect servant of their Creator. “Still the best”. She forgets him, almost as soon as she turns from his unconscious body. While her intention might, conceivably have been to let him die slowly, I believe the contrary. This is a creature who has developed a taste for killing up close, in an intensely personal way. Stabbing someone to death is an almost sexual act, providing a leave of gratification which simply cannot be felt by killing from afar. While she clearly uses the drone to relieve her ennui, and thereby assist the hound they have loosed upon the trail of Rachael’s child, her face comes alive only when she strikes up close - the perfect, beautiful mask dropping, then, to reveal the savage lurking beneath the surface. Caliban unleashed.
Her childlike rage, the screeching, gurgling tantrum, when she realises, finally, that she has been bested by this same hound, is truly awful to watch. It’s as mesmerising, as it is repulsive and tragic, all at once. Euthanising a savage beautiful creature, which never stood a chance and never chose to be the way she has been moulded.
She breaks my heart, every single time.
It’s an incredible performance, by Sylvia Hoeks. For me, it’s unquestionably the standout of the movie.