Science Fiction / Action

Johnny Mnemonic

Distributed By: Sony Pictures


Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Two decades into the 21st Century, the world has drastically changed.  Technology has become incredibly advanced, but at a cost - a new disease called Nerve Attenuation Syndrome, caused by overexposure to electromagnetic radiation from the technological devices.  A cure is available, but a greedy pharmaceutical company has chosen to hide this cure.  Cures are less profitable than extensive treatment of the disease, and thus, the cure remains hidden from the public until a group of underground scientists in Japan steal the data.

            They hire a data carrier, a man with a computer enhancement in his brain that allows him to smuggle data anywhere in the world.  This was to be Johnny’s (Keanu Reeves) last courier job.  After transporting this data to a contact in New Jersey, he will have enough money to remove the implant and restore his childhood memories.  However, Johnny has no idea that the data he was about to download would be so valuable that the Yakuza organization will stop at nothing to attain it.  Even worse is the fact that Johnny has overloaded his implant.  If he doesn’t get the information to its intended party in time, he will die.

            Enter Jane (Dina Meyer), a bodyguard by trade and secret sufferer of NAS with a bone to pick with Johnny’s handler, Ralfi.  Fortunate for Johnny, she arrives just as Ralfi sells Johnny out.  Johnny hires her on as protection and the two set out on a journey to discover who the information is supposed to be delivered to and how to download it without the proper code sequence.  Jane takes Johnny to the LoTecks, a group of resistance fighters, fighting to save the world from itself at the hands of its overblown technology.  The LoTecks may be Johnny’s and NAS sufferers’ only chance for survival.

            When Johnny Mnemonic hit the theaters in 1995, I had no interest in seeing it.  I think Keanu Reeves is a horrible actor and I can’t be bothered watching any of his films.  However, a friend of mine, knowing that I am a fan of science fiction films and that I think Dina Meyer is an under-rated actress, bought the DVD of Johnny Mnemonic for me as a gift.  I couldn’t let their money go to waste.

            Johnny Mnemonic is loosely based on a short story of a future world written by William Gibson.  As sci-fi stories go, the plot is interesting.  Action-wise it was entertaining.  Acting-wise, it was a joke.  Keanu Reeves can’t act – I will stand by that statement for as long as he has a career.  Reeves plays the same person in every movie he has ever been in.  Whether a clean cut professional or a scruffy never-do-well, Reeves always portrays his role in the same fashion – as a brain-dead surfer who has smoked one too many joints.   Dina Meyer never seems to pick the right movie – add this one to the rather long list of bombs such as Dragonheart, Bats and Time Lapse.  She didn’t have much of a speaking role in this film, but she did pack one helluva punch.  It was nice to see Ice-T in this flick – for the most part, he played a high-tech version of the role he portrays in Law and Order SVU Dolph Lundgren is absolutely insane as The Preacher, an assassin out for Johnny Mnemonic’s head – literally.

            The bad acting in this film can partially be blamed on the bad writing.  Who can act well when spouting stupid lines like, “I WANT ROOM SERVICE! I want the club sandwich, I want the cold Mexican beer, I want a $10,000-a-night hooker! I want my shirts laundere. like they do at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.”  This was supposed to be a dramatic diatribe by Johnny at the incredulousness of his current situation – yeah, right. 

            This movie had the feel of one of those futuristic B-style movies like Escape from New York, Cyborg or Blade Runner.  It had the cyber punk feel of those movies.  However, unlike Blade Runner, it just didn’t pack the punch…it lacked the power to deliver the underlying message about technological advancement.  To me, Johnny Mnemonic was a B-rated action film with a wavering plot and some truly unbelievable characters…did I mention the dolphin?  Never mind, you don’t want to know.

            I hear that Johnny Mnemonic has become a cult classic among cyber punk film fans.  I suppose it’s enjoyable if you ignore the crappy writing, sequencing mistakes (check out the injuries to Jane and Johnny throughout the film), and lousy acting.  All you have left then is a bunch of fight scenes and explosions.  I suppose that would be enough from some action film fans out there.  As for me, Johnny Mnemonic was a mind-numbing bust. 

            Oh, and thank you for all the special features on this DVD.  I so wanted to know all about four of the numerous actors in the film.  That’s just what I want from special features – not!  How about a deleted scene?  An alternate ending?  Some outtakes?  What a waste of a special feature section!

            Still want to watch Johnny Mnemonic for some strange reason even after reading this review?  Rent it – it’s not worth the purchase! 


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