Liked the Matrix? Have Your Seen Johnny Mnemonic? #cyberpunk
In this piece on TotalFilm, they look at Keanu Reeves other cyberpunk work, namely his starring role in Robert Longo’s 1995 film, Johnny Mnemonic. I always liked this film and thought that it didn’t deserve the level of derision and dismissal that it received.
William Gibson himself tweeted a link to this review with the comment:
“I’ll take this thoroughly non-scathing, historically contextual review of Johnny Mnemonic, thanks. Takes a while, sometimes!”
Johnny Mnemonic is a film that simply must be seen to be believed. Adapted for the screen by influential cyberpunk author William Gibson, who wrote the short story the film is based on (and whose 1984 novel Neuromancer used the term ‘the matrix’ for cyberspace over a decade before the Wachowskis), the film focuses on Reeves’ titular character, who stores gigabytes of data in a brain implant. He’s a mnemonic courier, which means he smuggles the information stored in his head from client to client. To get more space, he had to delete his childhood memories – and, despite knowing that overloading his brain-drive could be fatal, the film begins with him taking on far more than he can handle. That information lodged in his head turns out to be very important, but in the short-term, it’s about to kill him if he can’t remove it in time. If that wasn’t dire enough, the Yakuza is on his trail, intent on slicing and cryogenically freezing his head to preserve the precious data inside.
Look beyond Johnny Mnemonic’s madcap elements, then, and you’ll find a fascinating and all too relevant treatment of issues that still plague our society over 20 years later, just like The Matrix. While both films are nowhere near identical, they share similarities that makes Johnny Mnemonic the ideal double feature with any of The Matrix movies. And who could turn down Keanu Reeves being rescued by a cybernetic dolphin?
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