Johnny Mnemonic: (Pneumatic)
a movie review by Joe Parra
Rating: 2 out of 4
In the not-too-distant future, a rather lucrative method of employment
is to be a special type of courier. No, this is not one of those pesky
folks on bicycles confounding traffic. These individuals in the future
have memory implants that work like computers - they can store incredible
amounts of information, but they can handle just so many bytes. Johnny
Mnemonic, the titular hero of the film, is one of these "information please"
folks. He has been hired by a group of Japanese hackers for a very special
purpose. In this future, a small group of individuals wield all the power
via an incredible master computer. Naturally, these people are not nice.
(In these tales, they never are.) Leading the resistance, via hackers,
is a rag-tag bunch of techno-minded gunslingers. What the Japanese hackers
hope to relay via Johnny is a secret recipe for the ultimate hack: to destroy
(unplug?) Big Brother. Of course, the controlling personae have no intention
of dropping the keyboards and surrendering; and so the merry chase is on,
with Johnny and his resitance pals dodging bullets and logorhythms at every
turn. Where to go???
With this type of movie, the big star is going to be special effects;
and, in that regard, this film is no slouch. The computer-generated FX
(well, of course the effects would be computer-generated in this
film!) are absolutely marvelous, especially when we are allowed inside
our hero's skull. The sets are incredibly grungy in this bleak, nightmarish
world, and so work nicely. The weaponry is state-of-the-art; the computers
up-to-date and beyond; in short, the flick is technically beautiful.
HOWEVER, technotronics alone do not a movie make. In this case, would
that it were so! Keanu Reeves, Hollywood's answer to the cigar store Indian
(emotion-wise), has at last found a role that he is perfect for. This is
no joke or jibe, either! His monotone and great stone face are perfect
for this Johnny Mnemonic character, because any movement like emotion or
life would threaten his existence. Ice T shows us that rap - definitely
not acting - is his forte, though he has one or two nice
moments when showing Johnny the hackers' turf. Dolph Lundgren is so bad
that he's good, as a crazed hitman with a Messiah complex. Robert Longo,
the '80s multimedia sensation, directs with all the delicate skill of a
cement mixer and the finesse of a pneumatic drill.
Infintely more interesting is the story of the bringing of William Gibson's
story to the screen. Gibson was so impressed with Longo's topically interesting
art that he decided this man was to bring his vision of the bleak future
world to life on the celluloid map. At first, they tried to make Johnny
Mnemonic as a mere $7 million black-and-white epic; however, the story
was just too large in scope to be done relatively inexpensively. Carolco
Pictures got wind of the boys' dilemma and decided to bail in with $25
million. Ah, but alas! Poor Carolco hit the skids and sold the project
to independent producer Steffan Arrenbherg, who in turn got Tri-Star Pictures
interested. Originally, Val Kilmer was slated to play Mnemonic. Imagine
that - they almost had an actor with range from A to Z instead of A to
B. Mnamazing, mnism't it?
Enjoy (the effects, anyway).