Johnny Mnemonic Review

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Johnny (Reeves) carries data in his head and delivers it for a price. When a corporation hires him to take some very important code in his head, they overfill it, leaving Johnny with 24 hours to download it, or he will die. Additional problems come in the form of a rival company wanting the information, and the have dispatched Yakuzas to retrieve it.


The future sucks. At least that's the case with this, the first of visionary cyberpunk author William Gibson's stories (a short taken from the Burning Chrome collection) to get the celluloid treatment.

An Armani-clad Reeves is Johnny, a man with space in his head to rent (this actor does himself no favours!), and so the perfect vessel for the transportation of illegal data. Having down-loaded key memory space, Johnny wants his childhood back, and to get it he's going to have to make one more run. But the material he is currently transporting is hot stuff. The Yakuza are after it, the mysterious, and seriously demented Street Preacher (Lundgren) is after it, and if they don't chop it off first, Johnny's head is about to seriously crash, forever. Now, if only he could remember where he put that down-load access code...

All the elements of Gibson's work are here: the lateral, tunnel-like visions of a virtual reality - although, these computer effects look timid and out-dated compared to the whizz thrills the likes of Cameron and Spielberg are currently wielding - the dark corporation ruled world of the future, more hackers than you can throw a plate of chips at, even the techno wired, ultra-genius dolphin puts in an appearance (as does everyone from Udo Kier to Ice-T to Henry Rollins).

What's missing is any sense of this movie being directed. Video artist Robert Longo may show some affinity for the material's technology, but he can't hold an action sequence together to save his life. The film plods along with no sense of pace, character or importance of event, and is utterly devoid of suspense. Reeves cut an impassioned hunk in Speed, here he's back to the arch-woodness which has constantly beset his career, and it is only the over-acting Lundgren who makes any impression.

Gibson's future-world may be a cold one, but it should never be seen as a dull one; this is a missed opporunity.