Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Johnny Mnemonic

Watched August 31, 2014

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Dina Meyer, Udo Kier, Dolph Lundgren

This movie falls into a similar category as Blade in my memory, I know that I have watched it before but I don't remember much about the movie and specifically to this one I recall it being pretty bad. This came out in 1995 which was right in the middle of my Entertainment Weekly reading days so I would read about just about any mainstream movie that came out and I remember that this was was anticipated but got terrible reviews. Surprisingly, my husband Alec wanted to watch this movie, he hates horror but seems to have some soft spot for '90s action/sci-fi movies.

In the future, there is an insane amount of crawl text. The future is a dystopia where corporations control everything. A virus NAS (and rapper) is ravaging the world and there is no cure. A rebel group, the Lo-Teks are fighting against the corporations. The internet connects everything, but the information is tracked so you can't share secrets. The work around for this are human information traffickers who have a portion of their memory removed and replace with digital memory.

Johnny Mnemonic (Keanu Reeves) is one such information courier. When her got the digital device implanted in his head, he sacrificed some memories of his childhood. He goes to his dealer Ralfi (Udo Kier) to negotiate getting the device removed. The surgery is very expensive, so Ralfi says that Johnny needs to do one more job. In Beijing, Johnny meets with his clients, they want to transport three times his capacity. He doesn't let them know that he can't safely hold the data as he wants the job so he can get out of the business. They load him with the data, it's transferred in such a way that he can't see what it is. It's locked with a visual code, that is three random images printed on a piece of paper. The images are faxed to the intended recipient, but it's interrupted when the corporate Yakuza show up and murder everyone. Somehow Johnny manages to escapes with one of the images since the fax didn't go through.

Johnny heads to the Newark, New Jersey where the information was to be delivered. When he is scanned at the airport, they recognize his implant as a dyslexia aid. He contacts Ralfi again to figure out what to do with the data, it turns out the Ralfi has been hired by the Yakuza to get the information that Johnny carries. Ralfi tries to get Johnny to the Yakuza but escapes with help from Jane (Dina Meyer). Johnny is having data leak problems because he has overwhelmed his capacity. Jane takes him to Spider (Henry Rollins) as street doctor. Spider taps into Johnny's brain, he says he can remove the implant but it will erase the data which is important. Spider lets them know that the data was intended for the Lo-Teks anyway.  The Corporation which has been revealed to be Pharakom, a giant pharmaceutical concern and they want the data, but so does the Yakuza. Spider is killed but before he dies he tells Johnny and Jane that Jones can help them. They find J-Bone (Ice-T) who helps them get to Jones. 

Jones is a dolphin. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. Jones is a former Naval officer dolphin who now lives in a tiny tank hooked up to the internet. Jones helps Johnny connect to the net and get the information out. It turns out that the information as cure for NAS. The corporation didn't want it out because it was more profitable for them to treat the disease than cure it. The Lo-Teks release the information, then J-Bone, Johnny and Jane see the Pharmakom tower burst into flames.

A little research went along way to find out the first time director, Robert Longo was a well known artist and a friend of William Gibson who wrote the short story the film is based on. It shows that Robert Longo wasn't prepared to direct a big budget action movie. According to wikipedia, Longo and Gibson originally wanted to make a low budget short film. The story itself is neat, the dolphin part is pretty crazy though. The dialogue is terrible and the action scenes don't come together very well. 

One of the Yakuza has an awesome laser cutter that extends from him finger. I love when the internet is visualized as a cool interactive digital landscape, but it does date the movie terribly. There is also a super cool tower of TV's to show what is happening digitally. There is a lot of cool stuff in the movie, but it's still terrible. The romantic subplot with Johnny and Jane is so awkward and forced, when they kiss it doesn't make any sense.

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