(director: Robert Longo; screenwriter: William Gibson/story by William Gibson; cinematographer: Francois Protat; editor: ; Ronald Sanders music: Brad Fiedel; cast: Keanu Reeves (Johnny Mnemonic), Dolph Lundgren (Street Preacher), Takeshi Kitano (Takeshi), Dina Meyer (Jane), Ice-T (J-Bone), Denis Akiyama (Shinji), Henry Rollins(Spider), Barbarbara Sukowa (Anna Kalmann), Udo Kier (Ralfi); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Don Carmody; Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; 1995-Canada)

“A cheesy cyberpunk thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A cheesy cyberpunk thriller helmed as a videogame without clarity or reason by the New York artist Robert Longo (“R.E.M.: Pop Screen”). The so-called father of cyberpunk fiction, William Gibson, adapts the screenplay from his own short story.

I’ll say this is a bad film, but how bad it is depends on your tolerance for dumb stories, wooden acting, awful dialogue and thrillers with explosive endings subbing for logic.

In 2021 corporations run things in a plague-filled world, a world in the grip of a high-tech virus that causes the “black shakes.” It’s a world where everything is computerized. There’s an underground movement, called the Loteks, to unseat the ruling high-tech corporations. The corporations hire for protection the Japanese Yakuza. Most parties when relaying valuable data use mnemonic couriers, who are with “wet-wired” brain implants. Johnny (Keanu Reeves) is such a courier hired by a band of Asian renegade scientists to transport a large amount of vital information on a world wide plague known as NAS, Nerve Attenuation Syndrome. A Big Pharma company profits from the plague by not telling what is the cure. The plot hinges on Johnny going from Beijing to Newark and downloading the data within 24 hours, as it seems the renegade scientists who hired him overloaded his system and the data and his life can be lost if not done in time.

In Newark Johnny must fight off attacks arranged by the head of a Japanese high-tech firm run by Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano, noted Japanese filmmaker) and from various Yakuza agents such as Shinji (Denis Akiyama) and operatives hired by the Yakuza such as the madman Christian prophet played by Dolph Lundgren. The gangsters literally only want the chip-carrying courier’s head and they are willing to literally chop it off.  The courier is protected by the rejected has-been ailing black shakes bodyguard Jane (Dina Meyer) and the leader of the Newark Loteks, J-Bone (Ice T).

This garbage sci-fi thriller delivers an unintelligent story that discards the ideas raised in the book for action and pyrotechnics and a few gigabytes of virtual reality.

Johnny Mnemonic

REVIEWED ON 4/26/2017       GRADE: C