Johnny Mnemonic is a dumb movie… and that’s even before Psycho Flipper shows up. The acting at best could be described as stilted while the story itself was inane, though to be fair at its core this could’ve been an interesting idea but was clumsily executed.
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Image | R – 98 min. – $17.97 | June 14, 2011
Directed by: Robert Longo
Writer(s): William Gibson (short story and screenplay)
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Ice-T, Dina Meyer
Theatrical Release Date: May 26, 1995
Features: Theatrical Trailer [HD]
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 1.75/5
The 1990s was certainly an interesting time for movies when visual effects were only on the cusp of technological achievement but still limited especially on a smaller budget. This was true for Johnny Mnemonic, the 1995 sci-fi/thriller starring a pre-Matrix but post Speed Keanu Reeves. Of course, the visual effects were the least of this film’s problems with most of its issues stemming from a ridiculous story intermixed with what I could best describe as stilted performances.
The year is 2021 and information is king in a world where corporations control everything while the rest live in dangerous times and even some have an apparently incurable disease known as NAS or Nerve Attenuation Syndrome. I know all of this thanks to a long ass scroll which details damn thing in the most uninteresting manner.
Reeves stars as Johnny, an information smuggler who takes jobs transporter info from one location to another. He does this by replacing portions of his long term memory with what’s basically a flash drive. He hopes to one day get enough in his bank account to leave the life so he takes one last job: despite having only a 160 GB memory, the info he’s hired to smuggle is instead 320 GB and taking on that much data will lead to data leakage and eventually death.
The job is to take this data, for which he does not know what it is, from Beijing to… Newark (random) where he’s led into dark areas and against some seriously dangerous people from his backstabbing agent who gets him these jobs (UDO KIER) to the yakuza and a psychotic killer preacher named, appropriately enough, Street Preacher (DOLPH LUNDGREN). Along the way he allies himself with J-Bone (ICE-T), the leader of a rebellion group called LowTek, and woman on the outskirts of society simply named Jane (DINA MEYER) who wants to be a bodyguard but because she has NAS, she cannot get work. Together they race against time to extract the data while escaping the clutches of others who also want what’s inside Johnny’s head.
There is so much wrong with this film I can’t even begin to describe. Where I would start is with the story itself which is based on a short story by William Gibson who also served as the screenwriter as well. Now the plot itself certainly had a solid foundation blending Blade Runner with Hackers but what unfolded instead were inane set-ups inhabited with ridiculous characters. Case in point: Dolph Lundgren as “Street Preacher”. You have not lived life until you see Lundgren with a Christ-like hairdo and beard (but blonde) spewing religious one-liners as fast and loose as Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, though to be fair they’re far less cringe-worthy.
Another aspect to the story that reaches absurdity I can barely describe without manically laughing. Please skip this section if you haven’t seen the film yet because you have to see it for yourself… Now, those who are still with us, we get into the third act where Johnny is at critical levels of needing to get the data out so they’re sent to J-Bone and LowTek for a last resort to somebody, or something, named “Jones”. Well Jones is in fact a dolphin developed by the U.S. Navy as a code-breaker. Yep, Johnny’s last chance is basically Flipper. Not only that but “Jones” takes great offense when Johnny calls it a fish and unleashes its mighty pain upon him. Apparently Jones can understand what people are saying and can in fact retrieve data and get on the Internet and help Johnny get the data in what is some of the most absurd CGI, although I guess for its time… no, it still sucks.
Lastly, one cannot overlook the acting. Obviously when you have somebody like Ice-T, you’re not going to get a thespian performance, heck while he’s been decent on “Law & Order: SVU”, you give him anything more and his weaknesses come through. That is expected from Ice-T but what of Keanu Reeves? The guy is an OK actor when given a solid script (see Speed, The Matrix, Scanner Darkly and The Lake House) but give him a suspect story and his flaws come through in spades (Chain Reaction, The Watcher) as is the case with Johnny Mnemonic.
Other than Reeves and the venerable Ice-T, Dina Meyers I guess holds up well enough even with the laughable seizure-acting but the award for strangest yet disturbingly awe-inspiring performance has to go to Mr. Dolph Lundgren. As I mentioned before, Lundgren plays one of the bad guys who is sent after Reeves but here he plays a preacher who spews one-liners that aren’t that funny or are just downright weird before getting an odd death sentence, of course when the main character’s only hope is a dolphin, anything else is quite normal by comparison.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 0.5/5
Not surprising, but all we get is the Theatrical Trailer (2:19; HD).
VIDEO – 3.75/5
Johnny Mnemonic is presented in its original 1.85 aspect ratio and now thanks to Image Entertainment in 1080p high-definition. The video transfer isn’t the greatest but it does look pretty good with a well defined picture, a decent color spread and only minute amounts of grain that I noticed. I’ve seen better transfers from much older films, but all things considered it’s an OK transfer for the few fans that are out there.
AUDIO – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track meanwhile is serviceable if not unremarkable. The dialogue levels are quite good and other background elements make some use out of the front channels (with minimal amount of audio from the rear speakers) but there are some explosions near the end and those were fairly low-key with little to no depth behind them.
OVERALL – 2.0/5
Overall, Johnny Mnemonic is a dumb movie… and that’s even before Psycho Flipper shows up. The acting at best could be described as stilted while the story itself was inane, though to be fair at its core this could’ve been an interesting idea but was clumsily executed. The Blu-ray for the most part is unremarkable both in terms of video and audio.