Movie: Johnny Mnemonic
My Rating: 2 stars
Uuuuuugh. I’m not quite sure how to write out the primordial wail that emanated from my soul after trying to make sense of this movie. Not that anyone was asking me to. This is a very old movie about the internet. It came out in 1995. And, we all know that very old movies about the internet are always groaners. I guess that’s part of the fun. But, I’m pretty sure I watched this movie about twenty years too late to enjoy it properly. I suppose if I had watched it and liked it right when it came out, I might have some nostalgic love for the film that would outweigh how ridiculous it is. But, I watched this movie for the first time in 2018, and it really didn’t hold up to the kind of scrutiny I was giving it.
The movie stars Keanu Reeves as our cyber-courier. He carries highly sensitive information that has been uploaded into his brain to clients that are very secretive, and usually dangerous. We get some classic mid-90s Keanu Reeves acting too—always monotone, never really quite sure of the appropriate tone for the scene. These days, Keanu Reeves has finally found the perfect role for his understated acting style in the John Wick character. And, I had almost forgotten why he had been such a punchline for jokes about bad acting for the longest time. So, I was delighted to be reminded of how completely dramatically tone-deaf he once was. That was a treat. But unfortunately, I had to sit through the rest of this nonsense story. Granted, it’s always pretty hilarious to see what people from a long time ago thought the future was going to look like. In this case, it’s a grimy dystopia with an extreme rift between the high-tech luxurious lives of the rich, and the oil-can fires of the technophobic poor. Technology body implants are a thing in this world, but there are just as many dangerous, back-alley body-mods as there are safe, sterile ones. But, the biggest takeaway I got from this movie is that people in the future are really into face paints, vaguely Asian garb, and silver tops. Sadly, there were no shiny jumpsuits.
I don’t think this movie is worth watching if you’re coming to it for the first time now. I’m sure it has some nostalgia value for people who knew and loved the film in the 90s. But, it really doesn’t hold up. I suppose there’s a pretty interesting anthropological essay that could be written about people’s perception of the future based on this and a bunch of the other “internet” movies that came out in the 90s. But, if you’re just looking for a movie to watch for fun, keep looking.