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In 2021, the world is run by massive corporations which keep themselves protected from the underground movement, the Loteks, by hiring the Japanese Yakuza. In this time of unrest, valuable information must be entrusted to mnemonic couriers who smuggle data in wet wired brain implants. Johnny (Keanu Reeves) is one such courier who is hired by a band of renegade scientists to transport a large amount of information on a world wide plague known as NAS, Nerve Attenuation Syndrome. Unfortunately Johnny's brain capacity is over extended and the NAS info as well as Johnny's own life could both be lost if he doesn't make it to his destination within 24 hours and download it.

Review by Craig Miller:
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of Johnny Mnemonic was not that it was made at all (as some cynical people might say), but that it was made during the 1990s. William Gibson's novel of the same name introduces some thought-provoking themes and ideas of a future world, but sadly the film version's visual effects, woeful performances and its 1990s action-influenced timing, negates all the positives.

Originally, Gibson's futuristic visions delivered some reasonably intelligent ideas involving technology and humanity and a world where the lines between the two are blurred. Sounds like The Matrix? Actually the Wachowski boys were heavily influenced by the works of Gibson and there are many similarities between the two films. More action focused than the book and with many of the clever ideas left by the wayside, Johnny Mnemonic settles into a heavy diet of crappy acting and daft shoot 'em up sequences instead.

At this point in his career, Reeves is wandering between action star (Speed, Chain Reaction) and fluffy bunny man (A Walk in the Clouds, Feeling Minnesota), and it's a mixture of these two personas that we get here....plus the bad acting! One laughable scene towards the film's finale sees Keanu showing off his acting prowess with a heart-felt speech about freshly pressed linen and room service. I get weepy just thinking about it.

Lots of hi-tech gadgetry for the corporations and low-tech gadgetry for the....um.... Loteks, highlight the differences between the two warring parties, and there is lots more "clever" juxtaposition including the uses of technology compared with those of humans, and everyone in the resistance movement having a dirty face with crazy hair, while the corporations enjoy fresh, well-kept appearances! Well how else could you tell them apart!

There's also countless inappropriate explosions, purple-colored hand grenades, a psychic dolphin and even a very angry Henry Rollins playing a caring doctor. But that's Johnny Mnemonic in a nutshell; a lot of ideas, a lot of action, none of it subtle, all of it cheesy. Actually, I take it back, it's starting to sound pretty good.

Essentially this is just an ordinary action film, no more or less, made for a time when mindless action still reigned supreme. But if it was made these days, with a massive budget, the superior digital technology available, a more experienced Keanu and a more thoughtful script, it would be sure to create box office history, be advertised on everything from buses to McDonalds and spark a couple of completely unnecessary sequels. Sure it would most likely be just as bad, but it would look incredible. Maybe there will be a re-make.

Published May 13, 2004

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(US, 1995)

CAST: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Dolph Lundgren, Ice-T, Takeshi Kitano, Henry Rollins, Dennis Akayama, Udo Kier

DIRECTOR: Robert Longo

SCRIPT: William Gibson

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen 1.85:1 16:9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Village Roadshow

DVD RELEASE: April 8, 2004

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