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Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

by on 2010/09/12

This was my fifth viewing of Johnny Mnemonic. It seems like this 1995 Canadian film starring Keanu Reeves is always playing on cable. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying it as well.

Cyberpunk cult film Johnny Mnemonic depicts a dystopic future where corporations call the shots and the global population is twitching in the grip of information overload.

Dystopic future, right …that’s the ticket.

Hmmm… I should probably tend to my social networks after I write this, twitch, twitch. Hail Wal-Mart.

Back to the review. There are good reasons why I never really get tired of this film. First of all, 90s films about the Internet are absolutely adorable. All that whooshing through 3D corridors with flashing technicolour circuit boards and then sliding down data tubes. So cute.

Second, there’s Keanu Reeves. I’ll never understand why some folks line up to strike at our native son Keanu. He’s absolutely perfect in Johnny Mnemonic and he was perfect in the Matrix trilogy.

He’s a beautiful, beautiful cypher.

In the film, Keanu is a courier who transports data in his pretty little head. His dedication to his work and his shallow quest for money has caused him to lose his childhood memories to make room for his transport packages.

As I write this, my terabyte drives filled with family photos and music sit  by my desk blinking at me serenely. Johnny’s head can only carry 80 GBs, 160 GBs if he uses a doubler. Also adorable.

But wait, there’s even more to love in this film. What about Henry’s Rollin’s over-wrought ranting about information technology in a doctor’s outfit? Outstanding. A Yakuza hitman with a garrote wire that’s a frickin’ laser! A Tweed sister (Tracy not Shannon)  in a silver lamé bustier. Keanu Reeves standing a top a garage heap yelling, “I WANT room service!”

Dolph Lungren playing a Jesus-styled assassin complete with rods and Jesus wig!

A cybernetic dolphin mastermind! It is a little dolphin in a tank with goggles and a head set. No, really.

This film has it all.

I read that the film started out as a low-budget art flick filmed in Toronto and Montreal but ballooned into a 30-million-dollar film. Alas Johnny Mnemonic has dated somewhat poorly looking more than ever like the low-budget film director Robert Longo set out to make.

That’s not to say there isn’t entertainment value and even wisdom in this movie. Central to the plot is the futuristic disease called Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (NAS). Also called the “black shakes,” this disease caused by an over exposure to electromagnetic radiation is cutting humanity down.  Johnny carries the cure for NAS in his over-stuffed cranium.

As I watch humanity wandering around with smart phones curled in their white knuckles, texting and tweeting their lives away, I wonder if Johnny Mnemonic wasn’t strangely prescient.

While I’m typing, Hacker Renders is playing Unreal Tournament on surround sound (Double kill!). My left eye twitches.

Watch Johnny Mnemonic before it is too late.

* * *

Rated 14A for sci-fi violence and for language

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