Johnny Mnemonic (1995)

johnny mnemonic poster 1995 movie keanu reeves
2.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 2/10
Visuals: 3/10

Story has potential

Techno babble, bad acting, and dated visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name: Johnny Mnemonic

Studio: Alliance Compliance

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): May 26, 1995

MPAA Rating: R

johnny mnemonic keanu reeves

You’ve come to see the Wizard?

Johnny (Keanu Reeves) is a modern smuggler.  In his head, he can hold data and uses his mind to transfer it.  When Johnny has a deal go bad, he finds the data in his mind is killing him.  Now, he’s teamed with Jane (Dina Meyer) who is suffering from nerve attenuation syndrome (NAS) and both of them are racing against time.  The data in Johnny’s head is important, and everyone is out to get it.

Directed by Robert Longo, Johnny Mnemonic is a science-fiction action thriller.  It adapts the short story by William Gibson (who also wrote the screenplay) which was originally published in Omni (May 1981).  The film was critically panned and Keanu Reeve was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Actor (along with his film A Walk in the Clouds).

I remember the promos for Johnny Mnemonic, and in addition to having a horrible title, I wasn’t impressed by what I saw.  Watching the film over twenty years later, I made the right choice.  Though the plot and ideas in the film are decent and genuinely interesting, the movie is pretty bad.

johnny mnemonic dolph lungren

It’s Jesus Dolph Lungren!

The high point of Johnny Mnemonic is the story.  You can see how it would work as a simple story and the idea of implants being used to smuggle the most important information (aka data) is pretty on point with today’s cyber-espionage.  The execution of the movie isn’t good.  It is loaded with lame characters, psychic dolphins, and a story that jumps all over the place.  It tries to use techno babble to cover it, but most of the “high tech” talk doesn’t hold up (there is a reference to iPhone maybe spelled Eyephone long before the Apple invention).  It all ends in a horrible mess.

Even more than the script problems, the acting is awful.  Keanu Reeves is still in his Bill & Ted “whoa dude” phase and not his Zen master phase which The Matrix tapped into.  He’s supported by a cast that struggles as well with the clunky dialogue like Ice-T, Dolph Lungren, Udo Kier, and Henry Rollins.  Keanu Reeves’s costar Dina Meyer likewise isn’t compelling or interesting.

johnny mnemonic dolphin

…and now we have psychic dolphins

The visuals for the film are dated.  There is some computer animation that at the time might have seemed pretty high tech, but it doesn’t hold up.  In addition, you have some rather cheesy (and impractical) sets that try to look edgy and dark.  You just get Keanu Reeves wearing all sorts of weird headdresses.

It feels like there is a good movie (or at least story) somewhere inside of Johnny Mnemonic, but that movie didn’t come out.  Unlike something like Tron that’s visuals created something new and endearing, Johnny Mnemonic doesn’t stand the test of time.  The movie bombed at the onset and doesn’t even get the fun of a hidden classic…just cut the head off of Johnny Mnemonic, and end it before it begins.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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