Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny's a nice boy. He's dumped his memories for a chip-enhanced data-storage capacity and a piece of hard change (how many of you out there wouldn't jump at a chance to do the same?), but now he's suffering from a bit of a brain overload.

What did you expect, with so many Gigas in his head, especially when they're leaking? Looks like it's time to download or die. And the troubles don't end there. The Yakuza are after the information Johnny's storing and have hired someone to bring in his head cryogenically preserved. Johnny's only choice to get away from it all and save his little grays is to hack his own head. Oh, Johnny, oh, Johnny, oh, Johnny, oh!

This film promised to be both super and cyber. What happened? The combination alone should have produced a better result: William Gibson, Henry Rollins, Keanu Reeves, Dolph Lundgren, Ice-T, Udo Kier, Tracy Tweed, Barbara Sukowa (Doesn't it sound more like some trendy Hollywood party than a film?) and many more. So what went wrong?

William Gibson, the very man who gave us the term "cyberspace", adapted the screenplay from his own short story and that, it seems, may well have been mistake number one. Although his imagination is captivating, it would seem that Mr. Gibson's gift for dialogue is not.

Add some miscasting and inadequate direction from provocative artist and sculptor Robert Longo in his feature film debut and one has suitably enhanced an already hopeless predicament. Well, Bob, I guess it's back to the drawing board. I mean, let's face it, I'm crazy about Henry Rollins, but he was totally out of place in his role as a renegade doctor and as far as Keanu is concerned, he just isn't (or is it "isn't just") another Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Of course, Udo is great (losing his members again as he once did in Dracula), Barbara S. looks fabulous in a haunting kind of way,

Dolph's new-born "persona" is not quite as attractive as his old one, and it only remains to wonder why, for "Heaven's" sake, someone didn't think of adding Grace to this already overextended and undereffective potpourri. Who knows, maybe she had something better to do? Director Longo, reflecting on the project, says, "I wanted an eclectic cast so that it didn't reflect a specific genre." Well, Bob, you win on both points. The casting may be eclectic, but the result sure isn't electric.

Despite the great disappointment from unfulfilled expectations, superb points, should, nevertheless, be awarded to Nilo Rodis Jamero's for production design and John Nelson and Jamie Rama for special effects. What a pity everything else wasn't up to par. Maybe Johnny would have been better off dead.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett