Cyberpunk

Johnny Mnemonic

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Johnny Menom…Mnomic…Just Johnny is a ’90s cyberpunk film based on William Gibson’s short story of the same name.

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Keanu Reeves plays Johnny/Just Johnny, a courier who stores data directly in his brain. Since traditional means of storing data can be easily hacked in this world, couriers like Johnny are the only means of transferring data securely. Johnny has to take on one major (and hopefully last) job before leaving this line of work. But things don’t go as planned, as the data he has to carry for the job is too large, and something something about it leaking into his brain or whatever, so he has to get the data out within a limited amount of time, otherwise he’ll suffer severe brain damage and die.

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Also, the job is interrupted by the yakuza. They were hired to acquire the data Johnny possesses, even if that means cutting off his head. It was the early ’90s, so obviously America still had an obsession with the Japanese business world. This was before it gained an obsession with Japan because of anime. The yakuza members hunting him seem to be evil for evil’s sake, as Johnny’s willing to give them the data for free by the end, just so he can get it out of his head and survive. But they’d rather kill him, because…?

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Keanu gives a brilliant performance this time. No authentic English accent like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but he still performs wonderfully in the role of a cyborg. Or whatever they were going for. I think.

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The environments are drenched in cyberpunk, to the point where you only ever see sunlight during a flashback. If you like these kinds of dystopian worlds with inhuman corporate societies contrasted against rundown grungy settings, you won’t be disappointed.

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There’s plenty of delightfully outdated interpretations of futuristic technology.  And payphones. There’s also some 3D scenes showing VR, a forgotten technology that we know will never come back.

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An interesting inclusion to the movie is an almost unrecognizable Dolph Lundgren as a crazed fanatical priest/mercenary. He’s a man with most of his body replaced by technology at this point. Just not on the outside. His character is an unrelenting killing machine, with little understandable motivation except that he’s probably going to kill you, even if it’s not really necessary. Dripping in hamminess, it’s clear that Dolph was having fun with this role, as should anyone else watching this movie.

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Oh hey, here’s Ice T. This was a point in his career where he would turn down no role. He at least has a shred of dignity in this movie, since he’s not playing a kangaroo this time. I don’t know what’s funnier, casting an old rapper as some futuristic anti-establishment rebel with the most absurd and silly sense of fashion imaginable, or the fact that he has a dolphin that can perform brain surgery.

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Is it brilliant? No. But if you’re the sort of person who enjoys films like Total Recall, fun sci-fi movies with unique ideas that moves at an entertaining pace, you should check this out.

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