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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I must start with a personal statement - I'm amazed at the silliness of
those who bombastically declare this to be the worst movie of all times
and so on... Really? Is it really that bad, worse than "Manos - The
Hands of Fate" or "Cocoon - the Return"?
I think most of the people who diss this film fall, broadly, in three large categories: 1) those who are so attached to the original short story that they can't stand the idea of an eponymous film with a different vision (although, again, its Gibson himself who penned this script!) This is not "purism", but acting like brats - just like those who criticized the film "Resident Evil" for not "sticking closer to the original games". 2) then, there are those who have a personal dislike for Keanu Reeves, and they follow him over the 'net, criticizing him for "wooden acting". It doesn't matter to them that the Johnny character is exactly what Keanu portrays - an egotistic, self-absorbed bastard, who only cares about his posh clothes, cold Mexican beer and hookers (and there are already so many out there like him, in the real world!). Then 3) there are those who are simply too stupid to actually watch what's going on on the screen, because of personal convictions, education or background (i.e. those who mention Grenpeace and anti-capitalism as if they are capital crimes, or those who think PharmaKom is a Japanese company). I was particularly amused at the user who launched a furious diatribe against the idea of the Lo-Teks being so visible in the ruined bridge, despite the fact that the only time in which they actually identify themselves as the source of anti-establishment activities is the very end, when they also announce they'll be going off the air.
The list could go on. But this is supposed to be a review, not an answer to those who dislike the movie so vehemently.
I believe this is *the* film which, despite its occasional artistic shortcomings, connects "Blade Runner" to "The Matrix". It was a courageous endeavour, portraying an all-too possible near future, and reminded me of another picture, similarly vilified by simpletons who couldn't see beyond the surface - "Starship Troopers".
The sad fact is that the movie was mistreated, and what we ended by seeing on DVD in most of the world is not what the director intended. There is an alternative version (briefly mentioned on this site) which makes some significant changes, and it's available only in Japan.
First of all, the prologue is different and more poignant. Here it is, in this exact form:
"New century. Age of terminal capitalism.
The armored towers of multinational corporations rise above the ruins of the democracies that gave them birth.
Soldiers of the Yakuza defend them.
Hackers, data-pirates, LoTek media rebels are the enemy, burrowing like rats in the walls of cyberspace.
A new plague convulses the cities: Nerve Attenuation Syndrome, incurable, fatal, epidemic, bringing fear and misery as old as the species itself.
But the most precious data is sometimes entrusted to elite private agents, wetwired to function as human data banks.
In this day and age, in the post-Enron, post-9/11 world, all the above doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore.
The film is more somber in the Japanese version. We see more of Takahashi's inner desolation, and there are some added bits of gore and violence in the Beijing fight. Johnny himself is much more of a corporate puppet - we see it from a longer dialogue with the hooker in the hotel room, or in the scene in which he acquires the memory doubler. We see J-Bone sticking a syringe in the dolphin, sadistically commenting how the creature is a junkie.
There is also more realism involved (Spoiler alert!): the hero doesn't somehow miraculously recover his childhood memories after being connected to Jones. And we see how Johnny, exhausted, decides to get it over with, despite a dire warning that the "looping" procedure through the dolphin will most certainly kill him. That is a moment of pure redemption, sadly lost in the official European and North-American film versions.
Last but not least, the extended cut gives more screen time to Lundgren's "mad preacher" character. We see him sermonizing in his church, in front of a rapt audience, using words and gestures that are scarily familiar to anyone who has watched an Evangelical TV channel. He discovers along the way that Johnny's "load" is the miraculous cure for NAS, and he covets it for himself - he even shouts he wants to "become (like) God." It's easy to see why "some circles" decided to eliminate all this potentially uncomfortable content... but we ended up with a caricature, instead of a cunning and shrewd film villain.
Johnny, we barely knew you.
Heavens, why is everybody bragging about this movie? Maybe because they
compare it to "Matrix? Probably, I wouldn't know another
Nobody says that this is a real block-buster, but it is definetely not as bad as everyone here wants to make it.
It's a nice movie to enjoy (especially on DVD) and forget afterwards. Not because it was bad but just because it was good and entertaining for a short while. Nothing more, nothing less.
And it DID have its benefits: that crazy preacher was so hilarious to behold. A nice and funny mirror to the numerous fundamentalistic Christians in the American society. And, of course, some nice fighting scenes, cool hi-tech equipment, and a gorgeous Dina Meyer, all packed in a futuristic ambience. What else could I ask for for an action movie that you can enjoy and forget about afterwards?
Johnny Mnemonic could have been a wonderful movie, had William Gibson not
strayed so far from his original story when writing the screenplay. Having
painter Robert Longo direct the movie, the first and to this date only full
length feature he has directed, was probably not the best idea either.
While Longo may present the occasional intriguing image, his inexperience
shows in other areas. The acting is terrible for the most part, with Henry
Rollins taking the cake for worst performance. Reeves, contrary to popular
opinion, is alright and has a few great scenes, most notably his angry
breakdown on the pile of garbage under the bridge.
Having read Johnny Mnemonic several times the character of Jane is one of the most annoying factors of the movie. In the story the character is Molly Millions, a confident, tough as nails mercenary who sports several augmentations, most important being retractable blades under her fingernails. However, they had to change the character since Molly Millions is also a main character in Gibson's book Neuromancer, and another company owed the film production rights for that book, including the character of Molly. But they could have made Jane more like Molly. Instead, she's as insecure as Johnny, and he spends more time protecting her than she does him, which is supposed to be her job.
There are other little inaccuracies in the movie, such as the Magnetic Dog Sisters. In the story they are the door guards at the club and Johnny claims that they are "bad news in a tussle." In the movie they are Ralfi's bodyguards and portrayed as pathetic and outdated rather than dangerous. The story doesn't have anything about NAS, that's all a fabrication to fill space for the movie.
Gibson seems to try to shoehorn several of his concepts into the Johnny Mnemonic movie. Instead of living in the rafters high above the streets, as they do in the story, the Lo Teks live on an old bridge. Gibson has people living on the Golden Gate Bridge in his books Virtual Light and All Tomorrow's Parties. The bartender Hooky, at the club where Johnny meets Ralfi, is an approximation of Ratz, a bartender from the book Neuromancer. Johnny never accesses the matrix (the internet) in the story, but he does in the movie, for no apparent reason other than allowing director Longo to show off some CGI special effects.
Longo also chooses to mimic Blade Runner in the opening scenes, and later on one character tells another that it's "time to die", a famous line from BR. I thought this was unnecessary, and cheapens the movie, as blatantly ripping of Blade Runner, whether it's for the purpose of homage or not, is the signature of several B-Movies, which is sadly what Johnny Mnemonic ends up being anyway.
I still like the movie. It does have some good elements to it, and if you're a fan of Gibson, you should see it. It's better than Abel Ferrera's terrible adaptation of New Rose Hotel, because it at least portrays Gibsons technological world. I hope that Johnny Mnemonic is remade one day because it is a great story. I'd ask Reeves to play Johnny again, because I like him in the role. Gibson's writing is so descriptive, that a screenplay should follow the story as literally as possible. Ideally, I think that Johnny Mnemonic would work out as a short film, something no longer than an hour. It is a short story after all, and adding filler to extend the time certainly didn't work the first time.
This is not a terrible film as claimed, but it had faults: poor pacing;
atmosphere (visuals were there, but insufficient music track to back them
up); and its largely unexplained universe.
Ideally, you need to have read Gibson's short stories and "Neuromancer" first, and then all the props - cyberspace, 'black ice', grubby streets, brand-name hardware, Yakuza assassins, muscle grafts, etc - make sense. The "Blade Runner" style information dump was no substitute. Incidentally, many of these props appear cliched, but remember that Gibson more or less invented them; it's merely that this film appeared long after they had become standard movie fixtures.
Gibson's written work has fairly sparse dialogue, and makes heavy use of precise and rather introspective visual description to convey character. Perhaps this just doesn't translate well to film.
Why does everyone hate that movie so much!?! All the reviews I have
called it "confusing". How could it be confusing?
1. Takes place in a world created in William Gibson's many works of fiction. 2. Man has data in head. 3. Others REALLY want data. 4. Man tries to get data out of head before it kills him -- or the people chasing him do.
Along the way there are some colorful characters, cool gadgets and cityscapes from Gibson's 2021, and even a smidgen of romance (but not enough to bother anyone). I mean what's the problem!?! The movie is very faithful to Gibson's vision and even asks the main character to wrestle with an ethical dilemma or two while all the action is going on...
Oh man! Why so many bad reviews... if you wanted acting, WHY WERE YOU WATCHING A KEANU REEVES MOVIE?! If you wanted a thick plot with many twists and turns, you shouldn't have even went "Oh, lets go see a low budget b-film from '95!"!!! The movie didn't call for acting, they just needed a brief plot outline and charismatic actors to play the leads. When I saw this movie way back in '98 when it was on TV, I heard so many horrid reviews that were too over-analystic. When watching a film like "Dude Where's My Car?", are you going to look for the same quality you saw in a film like "The Usual Suspects"? Keanu Reeves did his role only good enough to support the movie... That's fine!!! The plot was a cliche cyber-thriller and you must have known that even just buy the back of the box or the trailer. It delivered a plot that was kind of cool, an star that does some one-liners, and action. If these three things were not what you wanted from this film then you shouldn't have went. It just delivers an action/adventure movie, nothing short of what promised. Don't be critical on films that are obviously intended as sheer dumb fun from start to finish... if these scripts even tried to be thinker, they'd be boring... AND YOU KNOW IT!
What is it with Keanu Reeves and big budget cyberpunk science fiction
movies? Oh well.
Considering it was based on the short story of the same name by cyberpunk godfather William Gibson, the movie is a minor disappointment. It's not that bad, but it could have been so much better.
However, a lot of Gibson's ideas are still there, making it a solid cyberpunk movie. There aren't too many of those around.
I saw half of this movie on television once, and since I am a avid sci-fi
fan, the story intrigued me. A couple of weeks later I went out to pick up
copy of this movie for myself, and ever since I've been watching it every
now and then. Not every month, but at least once every 4 or 5 months.
Sometimes more. There's just something about it that I like. Well, lets
start from the beginning:
It is the year 2021 and the world has been taken over by large coorporations that do pretty much what they want to. Most of them are out to make money, however, and will do anything to achieve that goal. One of these coorporations is PharmaCom, a coorporation that deals in medicine and exists pretty much all over the world. From Beijing to Newark. 'Johnny' is a Mnemonic courier who carries an implant in his brain which allows him to carry a large amount of data there. But when he accepts a job where he is overloaded with data, he is not only experiencing trouble with getting rid of the data, but also finds that several bounty hunters and crime organizations are after his head and the information stored within. Over 24 hours he jumps around in the city of Newark, trying to find a way to get rid of the data and the bounty hunters.
A touch in this movie that many might recognize from the film 'The Matrix' is that in this movie they tend to hook themselves up to the internet, which has become a virtual reality like, àlà The Lawnmower man. But in the end of the film, Keanu's character completly hooks himself up to the internet for a short amount of time, walking around in it and controlling his actions as if he was in another world. Pretty much like he did in the Matrix. Wierd, huh?
The film presents a very interesting vision of the future. Coorporations, crime syndicates, virtual-reality, futuristic weapons and the like. The sets look authentic and the look and feel of the film is top-notch. The music seems to fit the mood at all times, too, which is a big plus. The characters are likeable and unique in their own way, but with one exception. Keanu Reeves plays 'Johnny' without any life or energy put into it and delivers his lines flat and in the most boring way. His worst acting job ever? Perhaps. You could tell he didn't like this movie very much.
Overall, its a very interesting sci-fi flick which has its ups and downs. The upsides is the setting, the music, the vision of the future etc. etc. while the downsides are Keanu Reeve's acting and sometimes lack of interest in what happens next in the movie. I give it a 7/10.
All things considered, this film probably does exactly what it sets out to
do. Unfortunately the people behind it set their sights too
There is so much movie-making potential in Gibsons writing, that this film
could very easily have been both entertaining AND carried the depth of his
I was left with the feeling that Gibson thought: -"Well, this is going to be
my one chance at getting my work on the big screen. So I'd better stick a
little bit of everything I've made in it."
Too many of the characters taken from his fiction get mistreated by the
script: Ralfi, Molly Millions, the-guy-with-the-monowire-thumb, Johnny.
Whereas the new ones, like Spider and the Street Preacher are much more
For example: One of the central ideas in the short story was that Johnny is
"a very technical boy" - totally reliant on technology - and therefore
actually needs Molly's muscle-power to protect him. Aside from one initial
rescue, Johnny actually saves his own bodyguard more times than she helps
him (with anything!) Maybe Keanu has a "Heroism Clause" of his own, like
Kevin Kostner... :)
A pleasant surprise though, was the appearance of Takeshi Kitano (even if it
was a small part.)
My favourite scene is Johnnys rant on the rubbish heap. I know it is contrary to the intent of the scene, but I sympathise completely with his feelings. He had sacrificed something that most people hold sacred, in order to live a certain lifestyle, and it gets taken away from him completely undeservedly - no wonder he feels cheated.
If you really want Gibsonesque cyberpunk, go for _New Rose Hotel (1998) _ instead.
Usually when you watch a sci-fi film, the first half usually piques
your interest only to sink into a confusing and badly written second
half ("Star Trek V" comes to mind.). "Johnny Mnemonic" has the unique
distinction of having a rather bad first half being saved by the second
half. There were moments of badly delivered lines and situations, which
I fully blame the director for. There were cuts where the demeanor of
Keanu Reeves changed confusingly. Again I blame the director and
continuity supervisor. There was, IMHO, more gore than necessary. But
that's a matter of taste. And, to make matters worse, I wasn't sure of
what I was watching.
There was a LOT of good things about the movie. It told a sci-fi story about a dark and bleak future....somewhat similar to "Blade Runner". And it did it well. There were an amazing amount of sets, extras, and really well done computer effects. There was even one really well filmed shot in a hospital that reminded me of the long scene from "Gone With The Wind" showing the dead and dying in the Atlanta train yard. Many of the secondary actors (especially Henry Rollins as "Spider" and Ice-T as "J-Bone") were surprisingly good and helped to raise my rating of the film from an initial 4.0 to an overall 7.0 rating.
If you aren't into a lot of foul language and/or gore, I'd steer clear of this film. But if you want to see a surprisingly well made piece of dark sci-fi, this is a film worth giving a chance to watch.
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