Johnny Mnemonic


SF elements

cyberpunk; memory uploads; jacking in to VR


It's the cyberpunk future (you know, the one where it's always nighttime, and everyone lives in a scrap metal yard, the contents of which they can use to build a computer). The world is ruled by giant corporations, and half the population is infected with the "Black Shakes". Johnny [Keanu Reeves] is a data courier who has uploaded more than he can handle. He has to get the data out of his head before memory leakage kills him, and before the bad guys kill him.


Lots of jacking in and manipulating virtual landscapes; lots of running around grungy Real Life landscapes; lots of killing people in a variety of hi- and lo-tech ways. Just your typical day in cyberpunkland, really.

This film has been panned by the critics, and many audiences, as being boring, empty, and unpleasant. They deride William Gibson 's screenplay, and claim Keanu Reeves "sleepwalks" his role. But I rather liked it -- I thought it captured the mood and style of Gibson's work rather well. There were some nice little touches, and even some flashes of humour. I also thought Reeves played the part just right -- after all, Johnny has given up some of his humanity to be what he is. He actually looked like someone who was at home with all the tech, not like an actor who wouldn't know a data glove if it slapped him in the face; and I particularly liked the scene where he is protesting that he doesn't belong in this underworld, but in a world where his shirts are laundered.

Maybe the usual reviewers don't "get" cyberpunk?

Rating: 3.5

[ unmissable | worth watching | passes the time | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

reviewed 25 February 1999