Johnny Mnemonic (1995) Directed by Robert Longo
a jpoc movie review
The original short story is much better.
Main Cast
Keanu Reeves Johnny Mnemonic
Dina Meyer Jane
Dolph Lundgren Street Preacher
Udo Kier Ralfi
My Rating & viewing notes
Four out of ten. I bought this movie on tape from the bargain bin at Heathrow in 2000.
You can buy the film, screenplay and the original short story (in the excellent collection "Burning Chrome") from:
amazon.com Burning Chrome Screenplay
amazon.co.uk Screenplay
Terry Bisson wrote a novel of the film of the short story but it is out of print.
The jpoc review
A near future film noir SF adventure set in a decaying US in which the hero fights against a large evil corporation and gets help from an unlikely female sidekick. But it's not "Blade Runner"!

Johnny (Keanu Reeves) remembers things. That's how he makes his living. Equipped with a brain implant, he uploads and smuggles vast quantities of illicit data for anyone who can pay the price.

In search of the big payday that will allow him to get out of the business, he travels to the far east and takes on a dangerous commission. The data that he uploads carries a number of problems for him. First of all, it is more than he expected and he has just a few days before data overload will cause brain damage. Next, he has lost the download keys so getting all of that lethal data out of his head is no longer quite so simple. Finally, the rightful owners of the data, PharmaKom, want it back. It seems that Johnny has the only copy and the folks hunting him are prepared to freeze his head in order to buy the time needed to hack the download codes.

On the way, Johnny is double crossed by his agent Ralfie (Udo Kier), teams up with Jane (Dina Meyer) a failed bodyguard, enlists the help of the Loteks and battles with a crazy Cyborg priest (Dolph Lundgren).

The acting in SF movies is often pretty poor. Normally that is down to the casting. "Blade Runner" and the Aliens series, with Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sigourney Weaver and co did rather better so, with Keanu Reeves, who is at least a recognizable name, as Johnny, this film should be up there with the best of them right?

Sadly not. Reeves plays his part with all the warmth and humanity of a broken golf club. It is one of the flattest portrayals ever by a serious movie actor. If it was an attempt by the director at hard, tech and cool then it didn't work. Dina Meyer as the body guard does a little better and Dolph Lundgren camps his way through gloriously but that is about it. You could almost wonder if this film wasn't in fact a clandestine computer generated precursor to "Final Fantasy."

Johnny Mnemonic is very loosely based on the short story of the same name by William Gibson and, were it not for the fact that he gets a screen writing credit, you might wonder what he thought of it all. My main quibble though is not lack of faithfulness in the storyline but a completely different atmosphere. The original story was a classic of cyberpunk full of hard attitude. I preferred the pictures that were in my mind when I read the story to those that I saw on the screen here.

Blade Runner, the Aliens and Terminator series and Total Recall all do dark SF as more three dimensional and compelling. (Three of those owe a lot to SF master Philip K. Dick.) Escape from New York is a better shot at SF noir as escapism too. Johnny Mnemonic didn't take the genre forward and was ultimately less satisfying than watching a re-run of any of the movies mentioned.

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