Johnny Mnemonic
Dir: Robert Longo
Star: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Dolph Lundgren
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 1995
Format: DVD R2

Johnny is a Mnemonic courier, he smuggles computer data across borders hidden in a cybernetic implant in his head. His latest job goes badly wrong from the start when his chip is overloaded a condition that will be fatal to him in 24 hours time. However when the Yakuza turn up and slaughter his clients and steal the download code that allows the data to be removed things go from bad to worse. Johnny has only one option left that that is to try a stay alive long enough to complete the deal, not an easy task when everybody is after his head.

This film marks Keanu Reeves first voyage into cyberspace and it is save to say it was somewhat less successful than the later The Matrix. Yet while is surely is no classic it may not be the abject disaster that some claim it is, as in a dumb sort of way this movie at times can be fun.

The main problem facing the film is the William Gibson screenplay. Which while littered with clever concepts is rather disjointed and contains some frightful dialogue. Gibson's work is not the easiest stuff to read, he has some great ideas but then pads them out with pretentious techno babble. This film is based upon one of his short stories and once the techno waffle has been removed you would be left with rather little to work with. This has forced him to add elements in to stretch the story which is why the story appears disjointed. As for the poor dialogue well for some of it (and definitely for the Room service monologue) Gibson deserves to be shot.

What makes the film work is the fact that Robert Longo manages to keep the pace moving and throws enough action and spectacle at the screen to keep the undemanding viewer entertained. Barely do we ever get time to wince at the latest dialogue disaster before some new adversary comes crashing onto the screen trying to take off Johnny head. This pace does paper over some faults including the heroes acting limitations and yet it never quite forms a coherent story.

Yes we all now that other than looking mildly dazed Keanu Reeves is a bit of an acting plank, but acting like a prototype his later movies this film shows the way to get the best out of him is to keep him moving. It is the action scenes in which he excels and for the most part this film sticks to just that. Thankfully pairing him with Dina Meyer has also helped spread the action load as she proves o be much more capable. The best performance of the film (and possibly his whole career) is the absolutely mad priest role for Dolph Lundgren. For once he actually acts and is very entertaining with a very over the top performance. Unfortunately if he is the plus then Ice T is the minus, putting in a performance as woeful as he did in Tank Girl.

For the most part Johnny Mnemonic is a slick good-looking film. Even the post Lawnmower Man virtual reality effects are pretty well done. However another major fault comes from the biggest difference from the original story and that is in the realisation of low-tech heaven. In the story the city is enclosed in a dome and the low techs live in a shantytown built on the under side of the dome. Obviously the budget wouldn't stretch to this so now they live upon a disused suspension bridge. This causes massive problems in terms of the structure of the story and the low techs role in it, as the action is forced to continually gravitate towards the bridge. This means that one of the central story concepts has been effectively ruined.

Above everything else is film is very silly, whether it is the ridiculous super dolphin or the retarded low techs with all their high tech gear living like gnomes on their daft bridge top hideout. As mentioned the unrestrained over or under acting and bad dialogue just add to the overall level of silliness. Yet despite this or maybe even because of it Johnny Mnemonic can be considered big dumb fun. Ok so in some places it is so poor as to be funny, but with the addition of entertaining and unceasing action the movie, while you can never call it good, can be considered to be so bad it is good.


The hottest data on earth. In the coolest head in town.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 16:9 Bit grainy but acceptable.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Pretty good soundtrack.
Features None.
Verdict Pretty vanillia disc, overall poor.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home