Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1PanelReview Johnny Mnemonic

No complications!

What it is: Johnny Mnemonic 

Which is: A science-fiction/thriller film
Directed by: Robert Longo 
Year: 1995  

Johnny Mnemonic is a '95 scifi/thriller/action film directed by Robert Longo who prior to this film directed several music videos and a couple of Tales from the Crypt episodes. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lungdren, Dina Meyer, an early appearance of Takeshi Kitano in one of his rare western roles and even Ice –T! The plot follows this guy Johnny Mnemonic. It's 2021, Johnny is a courier in this dystopian future where digital information is the most valued commodity. Johnny delivers data in his brain. One day the information he carries in his head gets him stuck in a war between corporations and the rebels...

What's Good about it: Fresh off Speed, Keanu Reeves was at the time breaking it at the box office. Despite being still a few year short from The Matrix, these were the films that helped launch his Hollywood career. And what did he choose for his next project? A small obscure scifi project! What's not to love about this? You can call this man's acting wooden, but 'dude had most excellent taste!
A cyberpunk tale at its best.
Johnny Mnemonic was based on a fantastic screenplay written by renowed father of the whole cyberpunk genre, writer William Gibson. Following his successful novels, he decided to write himself the story of the film based on the Johnny Mnemonic short story - itself partially inspired by his own previous work, Neuromancer. They tried to get funding to make the Johnny Mnemonic film for a decade prior to the film's actual release.
Keanu's acting really makes this film, as Johnny progressively loses and forgets his own past, his own identity. He is more in control and at ease in the digital world than interacting with other people.
There are some true fantastic gems in this film. Such as Dolph Lungdren's crazy insane preacher character.
Takeshi Kitano's small role, while he didn't understand much English back then, is also pretty neat in retrospective.
The old school computer graphics, if kind of outdated, are actually pretty fun in a vintage-sort of way.
The film would go on to become a huge influence on many authors, including the Wachowski and their very own Matrix Trilogy later on (why do you think they picked Keanu for?!).
It's a story about how humans are getting increasingly and dangerously reliant on technology.
Also Johnny Mnemonic is one of the very first hacker heroes! How awesome is that?!

What's Bad about it: There's a lot of things that have aged quite a lot of this film, if you can't take it in context of its release date.
For one, Johnny is about to lose his own memories... over a hundred Gigs of memory only (which doesn't sound that much nowadays, even though 1 GB was the equivalent of 1 Tera these days). Probably the silliest thing from the film, all things considered. And yes, even compared to the "digital world" bit.
Also the film has its fair chair of cheesy dialogues. Mostly those coming from mister Ice-T himself.

Overall: A very awesome underrated little flick. 

It failed big time at the box office back then, the film never made its 20+ million dollars budget back.


It was released following on the great cyber-punk movement back in the mid-90s, when it was at its peak after the release of the likes of Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Blade Runner.

Sony had much faith in Johnny Mnemonic and decided to put all their hope in this little film and went all out on a multi-media project at the time. They decided to make a big thing out of their soundtrack release (still not that common at the time), produce a big budget FMV CD-Rom videogaem for DOS, PC and Mac (a Sega CD was scrapped despite being fully developed), pinball machines and a big internet marketing campaign... which was never seen before. If we're used to this with viral marketing nowadays, it was certainly a new thing when Sony decided to make a full-on cross-promotional website which could win you t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.

All in all, Johnny Mnemonic is a fantastic very imagine film that was mostly unjustly panned by the critics at the time. It certainly deserved better. And another look. Recommended.
I give it: 2.5 / 3 Quacks!
[How does my Rating System work?]

No comments:

Post a Comment